(1) The legislature finds that the state's ferry fleet available for mass transportation of people within the urban region of Puget Sound is critically deficient and that substantial financial assistance for the acquisition of new ferries is necessary if the Washington state ferries is to continue to fulfill its role in the Puget Sound regional urban transportation system.
(2) The department is authorized:
(a) To apply to the United States secretary of transportation for a financial grant to assist the state to acquire urgently needed ferries;
(b) To enter into an agreement with the United States secretary of transportation or other duly authorized federal officials and to assent to such conditions as may be necessary to obtain financial assistance for the acquisition of additional ferries. In connection with the agreement the department may pledge any moneys in the Puget Sound capital construction account, not required for debt service, in the motor vehicle fund or any moneys to be deposited in the account for the purpose of paying the state's share of the cost of acquiring ferries. To the extent of the pledge the department shall use the moneys available in the Puget Sound capital construction account to meet the obligations as they arise.