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New inland ferry makes a splash

NAKUSP - Travellers crossing Upper Arrow Lake are one step closer to having a new ferry, following the launch of the hull for a new vessel in Nakusp on Sunday. The launch represents a significant milestone in the project.

Construction of the vessel is on time and on budget. It is scheduled to be put into service between Galena Bay and Shelter Bay in May 2014.

With the hull now in the water, WaterBridge Steel in Nakusp will build the superstructure and install the vessel's equipment and systems. The ferry is expected to be ready for speed and endurance trials and manoeuvring tests by February 2014. The final step will be Transport Canada certification next spring.

Aside from improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, the new Upper Arrow Lake ferry incorporates enhanced maintenance technology that will result in a high level of reliability. The vessel is designed to enable underwater visual inspections, eliminating the requirement to lift the vessel out of the water every five years for an inspection. The vessel's equipment and systems will be fully serviced from the car deck or inside the vessel.

The new drive-on, drive-off ferry will replace two 40-year-old vessels and with a capacity to transport 80 vehicles and 250 passengers. The vessel will have wider lanes and improved ramp transitions for faster loading and unloading. The sailing time is 20 minutes.