Lots of Truck Weight Restrictions during 2017 Low Tides

The list of these restrictions, which prohibit trucks of greater than 40k pounds Gross Vehicle (GVW) during minus low tides, are relevant to those wanting to haul or have hauled gravel, soil, concrete, construction and other heavy loads during 2017.  At other times, the maximum GVW is 50,000 lb.

How tide restrictions work: The crew is, and always has been, rigid in enforcing the county engineer’s requirements regarding weight. Any vehicle weighing more than 40,000 pounds is required to have a weight slip and may board with the captain’s permission. Nothing is allowed over 50,000 pounds, and the maximum limit during periods of minus tides is 40,000. The crew regularly turn trucks away from uninformed haulers that are overweight or haven’t obtained a weight slip.

Companies or contractors who regularly bring heavy trucks across know about this process. However, any islander who’s expecting a heavy load delivery should make sure that the trucking company knows they need a weight slip if the total GVW greater than 40,000 lbs during times of low tide restrictions.

The restrictions protect the aging Gooseberry Pt and Lummi dock ramps.  The same load and minus tide restrictions have been in place since the mid 1990s. It seems ironic, given how little attention islanders in general pay attention to the aging of the docks vs the Whatcom Chief, that the docks may be more of a limiting factor in ferry service in the years ahead than the vessel.

Lummi Island Fire District – Ferry Communications

Lummi Island medical or fire emergencies can require sudden use of the ferry for transport. That doesn’t happen by magic. Rather, it has required well-planned and continually supported radio links between two county agencies, the Whacom County Fire District 11 (WCFD11, Lummi island) and Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW ferry operations).

In 2011, District 11 Fire Department (Duncan McLane, Chief and elected Fire Commissioners Bob Busch, Ed Scott & Wendell Terry) purchased and arranged for the installation of compatible communications equipment needed for these essential communications. This was done by a formal agreement between Fire District 11 and Public works  (alternative link here). Initial funding was provided by a grant obtained by the Fire District. Presumably on-going maintenance of this system is funded by Fire District property taxes paid by Lummi Island property owners. Effective operation is made possible by the fact that some ferry crew members are also volunteers in the Fire Department.

Positive interactions like this between two of Whatcom County’s government agencies are essential to handling emergencies effectively for the isolated Lummi Island community.

Lummi Island Ferry Rates Starting October 4, 2015

How much? The full table of 2015 ferry fares for the Lummi Island Ferry are on the County’s Public Works (PW) website. New fares start on Oct. 4, 2015. The fare table has been on PW’s site for a while, as Ferry fares eff 10-4-2015 (presume ‘eff’ stands for effective).

When & where? Public Works staff will be at the ferry office (on LI dock) on 10/4 to sell punch cards from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. After 10/4, you can buy punch cards, as usual, on the ferry run back to the mainland. Cards also can be purchased online or by mail (for how-to details, see the County’s ferry website, left column).

The County PW ferry website link is always the top link ( “County ferry website”) on the Ferry Forum blogrolll/list of links.

Old punch cards. The County website includes the Whatcom County ordinance, which established the new rates  Table 7 of the ordinance gives all the changes, in detail. It sets six months (April 4, 2016) after new cards are issued (Oct. 5, 2015) for expiration of current (higher rate for pedestrians and car/driver) punch cards.

LIFAC Website – New Communications Plan

At their August 2015 meeting, the County-appointed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) adopted a communications plan to help the community keep updated about ferry issues.

LIFAC’s county website has 4 new items:

  1. The communications plan, which tells how to participate and stay informed about LIFAC activities.
  2. A new address for contacting LIFAC:  lummiferry@googlegroups.com
  3. A subscription link that lets you get emails about LIFAC meetings, agendas and other documents: lifac-announce+subscribe@googlegroups.com
  4. Current LIFAC members.

The communications plan, drafted by Nancy Ging (newest LIFAC member), was reviewed and modified before being adopted and implemented.

Kudos to LIFAC for taking these steps to improve communications with the ferry-using community.

Lummi Island Ferry Dry Dock 2015 Info

UPDATE 7/27:  New great article about the dry dock experience by Isaac Colgen.

The Whatcom County’s Public Works ferry site has links to information about the 2015 Lummi Island ferry dry dock (Sept. 10 – Oct 1), including the passenger ferry schedule, van service on the island and van stop maps.  Basic timing of dry dock is here – very important is the time of the last car ferry run on September 9!Read More »

2015 Lummi Island Ferry Drydocking, Repair and Maintenance Bid and Costs

Here’s the link to Whatcom County’s 2015 bid document for the annual drydocking, repair and maintenance of the Whatcom Chief, ferry to Lummi Island. (The pdf file is located on the searchable, public Whatcom Ferry Documents Archive).  It includes all the specific required work, including photos of areas needing repair or replacement.

The successful low bidder was Puglia Engineering (multi-state corporation) for $464,289, which was approved by the County Council in June 2015.

This should reinforce, for everyone, the need to get moving on planning for a new ferry.  In the meantime, I personally hope that Whatcom County Public Works is/will be working with other counties with ferries to ensure that drydock bids are as reasonable as possible.