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Washington State Ferries receives millions in federal funding from infrastructure legislation

The Federal Highway Administration recently announced its 2022 allocations for $172 million worth of funding.

EDMONDS, Wash. — Washington State Ferries (WSF) will see an increase in federal Ferry Boat Program (FBP) funding in 2022 as compared to 2021, following news of allocations by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Officials said this is the first major release of FBP funding since the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with formula calculations based on data in the most recent Bureau of Transportation Statistics National Census of Ferry Operators.

Nine ferry operators in Washington state received a total of $42.4 million for 2022, which officials said is more than double the amounts received in 2021.

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“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has substantially increased funding for ferry boats to help improve the quality of life and make it easier for commuters to get to their destinations,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “In all of the states and territories receiving funding, ferry boat service is an important part of transportation in helping to improve mobility and access to important services in these communities.”

WSF said its 2022 distribution totals $38 million and that the agency "relies heavily on the FBP funding to support its Vessel Preservation & Improvement program as well as terminal improvements."

Senator Maria Cantwell released a statement on the news Friday, writing that "this $42.4 million from the Infrastructure Law will help Washington state maintain our world-class ferry fleet. Over 17 million Washingtonians depend on timely and reliable ferry service annually. This funding will ensure that Washington residents and visitors will be able to stay connected to their families, their jobs, and the greater Puget Sound.”

Cantwell's office said funding from the FHWA’s Ferry Boat Program can be used for "ferry maintenance facilities and capital improvements to existing ferry operations, in order to increase the number of riders, relieve congestion, or address environmental or significant operational concerns."

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