Public Works just issued a notice for the next inspection-related ferry outage, Wed. June 29, ~10 AM -3 PM. This notice is apt, given Jeff Campbell’s recent very reasonable question about why so there have been so many inspections the past few years. His comment prodded me to email Diane Harper (Ferry Task Force) to ask about this. Here’s Jeff’s comment, my query to Diane and her response. This strikes me as a good example of how information and historical context can help dispel some of our concerns about What’s Really Going On.
It seems that the number of dock inspections has skyrocketed in the last two years. How can this be cost effective? And what is the rationale for the dramatic increase in the number, and frequency of inspections. It doesn’t seem like the docks are any more reliable now, than they were before the increase in frequency. (link to his full comment)
My email to Diane
Diane’s email response
The monthly dock inspections have been happening for over a decade – they used to be done late at night when the ferry was not running. It is considerably cheaper to have them done at day labor rates, plus it is easier for those inspecting to see some problems at an earlier stage with more light.
I don’t remember who requires the monthly inspections, but it is not an option for the county. And it would increase costs for the portion fares pay as well as the portion the county road fund pays if they moved it back to late at night. (I think it’s the state bridge inspectors, or insurance company, or coast guard that require monthly inspections, and I will verify who and what and how often and get back to you.)
By the way,when Frank first arrived and saw the high expense of nighttime labor, the PW staff told him that the islanders would never let him get away with interrupting the daytime ferry service to do the inspections. I twice have heard him express his appreciation that islanders have been willing to deal with the service interruption.
I have often seen road crews, water line installers, etc. in many different jurisdictions that seem to have a bunch of people standing around not doing anything, so I make no defense of how many people are used for the inspections – I would just observe that I doubt that Frank would be paying people if he could find a way to avoid it.