Guemes Island Ferry Replacement Project

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Guemes Island Ferry Replacement Project

Ferry Operations Manager: Rachel Rowe

News and Notices

State Transportation Package passes; Guemes Ferry Replacement Project fully funded

The Washington State Legislature has finalized the Move Ahead WA Transportation Package, the 2022 Transportation appropriations package for the state of Washington. Amongst other appropriations, this bill funds the Guemes Ferry Replacement project at $14 million. This funding completes the financing for the project.

“We are so thankful to our legislative delegation as well as Representatives Fey and Tharinger, and Senator Liias for supporting this project,” said Commissioner Peter Browning, who currently serves as Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “This project is vital to residents of Guemes Island and has been a long time coming. We’re incredibly excited to begin project construction.”

The Guemes Ferry Replacement Project will replace the current 40-year-old M/V Guemes with a new all electric ferry. The ferry is expected to enter into full service by 2025.
Commissioner Ron Wesen said, “The M/V Guemes is nearing the end of its useful life and we need to replace it imminently. To have such considerable support from the entirety of our legislative delegation not only to replace the boat, but to replace it with an all-electric vessel is wonderful. We are truly blessed here in the Skagit.”

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said, “The M/V Guemes operates 365 days a year and with funding from the Climate Commitment Act, we'll pull those large diesel motors out of the Salish Sea and provide reliable transportation to Guemes Island.”

Skagit County is represented by the 10th, 39th and 40th legislative districts. The Commissioners have appreciated the work of Reps. Eslick, Gilday, Lekanoff, Paul, Ramel, and Sutherland, and Senators Lovelett, Muzzall and Wagoner. Each had a hand in getting this important project funded and over the finish line. Thank you sincerely!

Latest Guemes Ferry Presentations
  • July 19, 2022, Board of County Commissioners Contract Design Update: Video | Presentation
January 6, 2022 City of Anacortes Neighborhood Meeting

Skagit County is working with Glosten and Confluence Environmental on permitting efforts for the ferry terminal modifications, including the shore electrical system and charging infrastructure for the new battery-electric ferry, expected to enter service by 2025. A pre-application neighborhood meeting was held via video teleconference on Jan. 6, 2022. The materials from that meeting are now available.

Ferry preliminary design reports released
Ferry concept design reports released


Ferry Replacement Newsletter


Latest Guemes Ferry presentations

About the project

Skagit County has operated a vehicle and passenger ferry service between Anacortes and Guemes Island, WA since the early 1960s. The current vessel, the M/V GUEMES, is a 21-vehicle, 99-passenger, diesel-powered ferry that was built and put into service in 1979. Today, the ferry operates 365 days a year and transports roughly 200,000 vehicles and 400,000 passengers annually.
There are no alternative roads or highways that provide access to Guemes Island; as such, the Skagit County ferry system serves as a vital transportation link for its ridership. In addition to transporting commuters, the ferry also carries tourist traffic, construction and logging trucks, essential services trucks and emergency vehicles and personnel to and from the Island.
In the last few years, haul-out and dry dock costs have increased substantially. Since 2014, the Ferry Division has spent nearly half of its annual $2.5 million operating budget on maintenance of the vessel and associated machinery and repair projects. This has become increasingly burdensome on Skagit County’s road fund with the annual subsidy from that fund contributing approximately $1 million per year in the last few years. 
In 2013, Skagit County began the process of studying vessel replacement when they hired Elliott Bay Design Group to publish a Ferry Replacement Plan for the M/V GUEMES. The study looked at the existing cost of operation then formulated replacement scenarios to determine the most economic replacement option. The conclusion was that immediate or near-term replacement of the vessel will minimize the overall cost of ownership and provide environmental improvements in vessel operation.
Skagit County has determined a need to replace its diesel-powered vehicle and passenger ferry. If constructed, an all-electric vessel would potentially reduce operational and maintenance costs, increase energy independence and reduce harmful CO2 (Carbon dioxide) air emissions by 619,359 kg. A propulsion/feasibility study, completed by Art Anderson Associates in 2016, concluded, that based on power requirements, “…an all-electric propulsion system for a new concept vessel to replace the M/V GUEMES is highly feasible for this particular route and its unique environmental conditions…It is recommended that all-electric propulsion be considered for the design of a replacement vessel that will provide safe and reliable service.”
Currently, no state in the U.S. operates an all-electric vehicle ferry; however, the technology has been proven in Norway. Development of the all-electric ferry demonstrates that Skagit County and Washington State are technology leaders willing to invest in safe, environmentally conscious, clean energy projects that benefit both the local community and the global environment.

Contact us

Captain Rachel Rowe
Ferry Operations Division Manager
Skagit County Public Works

Anacortes Terminal - 500 I Ave. Anacortes, WA 98221
Ferry Office: (360) 293-6433   Cell: (360) 333-1496 
Direct Line: (360) 416-1466     Fax: (360) 293-1899

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