The department is authorized to acquire by lease, charter, contract, purchase, condemnation, or construction, and partly by any or all of such means, and to thereafter operate, improve, and extend, a system of ferries on and crossing Puget Sound and any of its tributary waters and connections thereof, and connecting with the public streets and highways in the state. However, any new vessel planning, construction, purchase, analysis, or design work must be consistent with RCW 47.60.810
, except as otherwise provided in RCW 47.60.826
. The system of ferries shall include such boats, vessels, wharves, docks, approaches, landings, franchises, licenses, and appurtenances as shall be determined by the department to be necessary or desirable for efficient operation of the ferry system and best serve the public. Subject to RCW 47.56.820
, the department may in like manner acquire by purchase, condemnation, or construction and include in the ferry system such toll bridges, approaches, and connecting roadways as may be deemed by the department advantageous in channeling traffic to points served by the ferry system. In addition to the powers of acquisition granted by this section, the department is empowered to enter into any contracts, agreements, or leases with any person, firm, or corporation and to thereby provide, on such terms and conditions as it shall determine, for the operation of any ferry or ferries or system thereof, whether acquired by the department or not.
The authority of the department to sell and lease back any state ferry, for federal tax purposes only, as authorized by 26 U.S.C., Sec. 168(f)(8) is confirmed. Legal title and all incidents of legal title to any ferry sold and leased back (except for the federal tax benefits attributable to the ownership thereof) shall remain in the state of Washington.