Tribes welcome Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal

City, state, federal officials gather to break ground on long-sought project
By Nicholas Johnson | Sep 06, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Tulalip tribal member Chelsea Craig, right, leads a group of students from Quil Ceda Elementary School in Marysville in a traditional welcome song during a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the new Mukilteo ferry terminal Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Tulalip Tribal leaders joined federal, state and city officials last week to welcome construction of a new ferry terminal on part of the Snohomish people’s original territory – the Mukilteo waterfront.

“We are welcoming you to our territory; we still consider this our land, our homeland,” Chelsea Craig, a tribal member who serves as a cultural specialist at Quil Ceda Elementary School, said before leading a group of students from the school in a traditional welcome song.

After more than a decade of planning, construction of the state’s new ferry terminal is set begin Monday, Sept. 11 – a day after the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival wraps up.

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Marie Zackuse called the $139-million project “a necessary improvement” that “will serve our region well,” adding that she looks forward to developing a vision for a parcel of land on the waterfront granted to the tribes as part of their partnership on the terminal project.

State Sen. Marko Liias, who also serves as Policy Analyst with the city of Mukilteo, said he, too, is excited to have Tulalip land in Mukilteo once again. Liias also said he’s proud to have secured funding for the project in the 2015 biennial transportation budget package, as well as voter approval of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure last fall.

“These two investments combined will reshape Mukilteo and reshape the region in a positive and multimodal way for the future,” he said. “I’m happy to report the Mukilteo ferry terminal was the easiest part to get into that 2015 package; Sound Transit 3 took a little more work.”

Liias said he’d been following the project since he was in elementary school, when the U.S. Air Force’s tank farm was closed and Mukilteo began imagining a new future for its waterfront.

“When I joined the City Council in 2006, we were told that within six months we expected the property to transfer and the project to move forward,” he said. “It has taken a few more months than six, but we are finally here.”

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson noted that four mayors have worked on the project over the years. She specifically thanked former mayor Joe Marine, as well as the City Council and city staff.

“I often look back to maybe a hundred years ago when this was a vibrant downtown,” she said. “There were lumber mills here, jobs, economic development, and now we’re at the precipice of creating that vision again.”

Relocation of the ferry terminal is an integral part of the city’s plan to revitalize its downtown waterfront. The City Council last year adopted a master plan for the waterfront that incorporates the new terminal and aims to improve pedestrian mobility.

“The current terminal was not really built to handle today’s passenger volume,” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen said. “It’s configuration, as the people of Mukilteo will tell you, makes it difficult for them, it makes it difficult for passengers, it makes it difficult for vehicles to get in and out of the terminal.”

The Mukilteo-Clinton ferry route moves more than 2 million vehicles and nearly 4 million riders annually between Whidbey Island and the Seattle-Everett area. That makes it the state’s busiest car ferry terminal and the third busiest route overall. The current terminal received its last significant improvements in the early 1980s.

“Here in Mukilteo, we like to be good neighbors of the ferry, and we welcome the visitors and the commuters who come to our community,” Liias said. “But for multiple generations, this ferry hasn’t necessarily been a good neighbor back to us. I’m proud that when this new terminal is completed, ferries will finally be a good partner in our community.”

The new ferry terminal will be located one-third mile east of the existing ferry dock, near the Mukilteo Sounder Station to provide better access to transit and more space for vehicle holding than the current facility.

The current terminal received its last significant improvements in the early 1980s. The new terminal will be better able to withstand earthquakes. Its design will also separate boarding for pedestrians and vehicles, making loading safer and more efficient.

The first phase of construction will involve installation of a storm water utility line along First Street and construction of a concrete trestle over tidelands on which the terminal building will be constructed beginning in June 2018.

In July, the state awarded a contract for the trestle work to Orion Marine Contractors of Tacoma, Washington. Orion submitted a low bid of just more than $4.648 million. The work was originally estimated to cost more than $6.365 million.

The state is due to award a separate contract for the storm water utility line next week. That part of the project is estimated to cost some $2.1 million.

Construction of the terminal building itself would begin in June of next year, and the project will be complete by the end of 2019. The state is expected to advertise construction contracts for that work as early as October.

Construction hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and no work on Sundays and holidays.

Trucks will be allowed to haul material in and out between 7 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and until 1 p.m. on Fridays.

“You still have a couple more years to go,” Liias said, referring to state officials. “We’re going to be listening to the noise and making sure it’s not outside the hours.”

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