WSF selects new location for ferry terminal

By Sara Bruestle | May 30, 2012

After decades of indecision, Washington State Ferries has decided what to do with the Mukilteo ferry terminal, which is in desperate need of improvements and repairs.

WSF has opted to relocate the terminal one-third of a mile east to the western side of the Mukilteo Tank Farm. The move was one of four options under consideration.

The site, known as Elliot Point 2, was selected over options to improve the existing terminal or to relocate it to the eastern side of the Tank Farm. WSF also rejected a “no build” or do-nothing option.

“We selected Elliot Point 2 as our preferred alternative because it received the most favorable responses and the least opposition as opposed to the other alternatives,” from the public, said Nicole McIntosh, WSF design engineering manager for the project.

It is also closest to the Sound Transit commuter rail station, has the least environmental impacts and is the cheapest at an estimated cost of $120-$130 million, compared to the other sites, McIntosh said.

The state so far has identified $90.1 million for the project. Now, WSF can finish the environmental review process and secure more funding for final design and construction, McIntosh said.

As the design and environmental review continues, the preferred alternative will continue to be refined, she said.

“As we move forward, there were some positive comments we received about the other alternatives, and we will try to refine our Elliot Point 2 alternative to incorporate those other comments,” McIntosh said.

WSF released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in January that analyzed each of the options. A final EIS is scheduled for early 2013, followed by the state’s final decision.

Although a “no build” option is required in the EIS, that wasn’t actually an option. The terminal is 60 years old and needs to be torn down and replaced, according to WSF.

The Existing Site Improvements option would have replaced the current terminal with an improved, expanded one at the same location, at an estimated cost of $130-$140 million.

Elliot Point 1 was the most expensive of the options at an estimated $156-$160 million. It was also the preferred option of the Mukilteo City Council, Sound Transit Board and the Port of Everett.

Mayor Joe Marine said he liked Elliot Point 1 because it would have allowed better commercial development on the waterfront and moved ferry traffic off the Mukilteo Speedway – but that Elliot Point 2 was his second choice.

“Option 2 is certainly workable, is acceptable and is far and away better,” Mayor Joe Marine said. “It’s what we’ve worked toward for the last decade, and that’s a multimodal transportation facility.

“We want to work with them and tweak that option to find the best plan for the commuters as well as for the community,” he said. “This is one thing I said I will get done. It will get done, and it will move.”

Elliot Point 2 relocates all terminal structures to the western side of the Tank Farm. The water is deeper in this location, so the ferry slip would be closer to the shore with a shorter trestle.

New supervisor, passenger and maintenance buildings, toll booths, 216-vehicle holding area and an overhead passenger loading ramp would be located on either side of the terminal.

The Tank Farm pier and Art Building would be removed. Ivar’s would remain.

A walkway would be built along the edge of the terminal that stretches from First Street to a shoreline promenade located west of the ferry slip. The current holding lanes would be open for redevelopment.

“We’re pretty excited to get this far in the process,” McIntosh said. “We have been working on this for awhile, so it’s pretty exciting that we’ve got a preferred alternative so that we can move forward.”

More information is available on the project website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/ferries/mukilteoterminal/multimodal/.

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