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By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo Ferry Advisory Committee | Mar 07, 2018

RCW​ ​47.60.310​ ​created​ ​local​ ​ferry​ ​advisory​ ​committees​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​local​ ​perspectives​ ​and recommendations​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Washington​ ​State​ ​Department​ ​of​ ​Transportation.​

The Washington State Ferries website says, “State law directs WSF to work with Ferry Advisory Committees to: Develop ferry schedules that work, resolve customer problems, understand regional issues.”

The​ ​Mukilteo​ ​Ferry​ ​Advisory Committee​ ​consists​ ​of​ ​three​ ​members​ ​appointed​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Snohomish​ ​County​ ​Executive.​ ​

The​ ​Mukilteo​ ​FAC was​ ​formally​ ​appointed​ ​in​ ​October​​ ​2016​ ​after​ ​not​ ​having​ ​a​ Mukilteo FAC​ ​for​ ​over​ ​15​ ​years.

This month, I’m going to discuss where we are in the new ferry terminal construction project, some related impacts, and why it’s so important that you make your voice known to the various agencies who are impacting our waterfront.

First, it’s important to recognize that the two mitigation agreements proposed by WSF to the city were approved without modification by the city council at the end of 2017.

The Mukilteo FAC had made some recommendations that were dismissed by WSF and city staff including additional traffic and safety concerns on Mukilteo Lane and in the surrounding neighborhood, and, a signalized crosswalk on the south side of 2nd Street to provide safer access to Lighthouse Park during and after construction.

Both of these recommendations would fall under the mitigation agreement at no cost to the city if they had been approved.

So now it is up to the city council to make this happen (WSF has said they’re supportive of the FAC recommendations).

Secondly, it’s important to understand what money has been allocated for safety and traffic mitigation due to the new ferry terminal project.

In the early phases of design, WSF was able to make a case that almost all of the growth would be walk-on passengers and very little additional vehicle traffic.

This resulted in a grand total of $50,000 being allocated for traffic/safety mitigation for the $139 million project.

To put it in perspective, the state mandated 0.5 percent for the arts results in a budget of $695,000.

In other words, art for the new ferry terminal will get 14-times more money than traffic/pedestrian safety.

The narrow (41 inch) sidewalks on the SR 525 bridge across the railroad tracks alone are a deficiency that should have been brought up to current standards with the new ferry project.

Which segways us into the next issue.

The new separate pedestrian bridge that you may have seen on the future Mukilteo Waterfront map is NOT part of the new ferry terminal project.

Instead, it is the result of a Washington State Transportation Mobility grant originally won by the city.

Due to a series of “unfortunate events” (believe me, you don’t want to know the history of this one) the grant isn’t enough and the money has to be spent before the bridge can be built, which apparently now has to be done after the new ferry terminal is completed.

The planned completion date of the new ferry terminal of December 2019 has been slid to the spring of 2020 due to some unexpected expenses encountered in the ground work construction efforts which resulted in an additional project budget request of $10 million and a delay in going out for bids for the next phase of construction until the legislature approves the additional amount.

The online survey for the three configurations of the council approved pedestrian bridge had been pulled after WSDOT proposed an alternative to reconfigure the existing bridge by adding wider sidewalks and tightening up the lane width and pedestrian/vehicle buffer on the existing bridge.

The city has put up a new survey that asks whether you’d prefer the reconfigured existing bridge (which costs less and can happen sooner) or the original plan of a separate pedestrian bridge (that costs more, would require applying for more grants, and would be built after the completion of the new ferry terminal).

Find the survey at

Most people, for obvious reasons, will prefer the separate bridge option.

However, this is being sold as an either/or when, in my opinion, it really should be an “and” decision.

The Mukilteo FAC supports the separate pedestrian bridge option, which will separate pedestrians/bike traffic from vehicles along with the integrated underpass to Lighthouse Park (the most popular option before the survey was pulled in November).

However, the existing grant should be spent on safety improvements that can be done sooner, including building a crosswalk across SR 525 on the south side of 2nd Street (for safer access to Lighthouse Park), completing the missing sidewalk segment between 2nd Street and 3rd Street along SR 525 (so pedestrians don’t walk in the ferry lane), mitigation measures on Mukilteo Lane due to the new ferry terminal traffic flow design, and the bridge reconfiguration option, which will at least help the long-time deficient sidewalk width that has plagued this area for years.

I chose the separate pedestrian bridge option and in the comments said I think they should do both.

Hopefully that will be interpreted the way I intend it to be.

Finally, parking.

Ironically, while this can be argued as the biggest ferry related problem from a user’s standpoint in Mukilteo, it’s also the only topic that WSF has nothing to do with. Currently WSF is only concerned with dock to dock (and ensuring the accompanying infrastructure allows them to load and unload the boat with minimum delay).

Although WSF is in the middle of their long-range planning process, which is expected to expand from the “dock to dock” to the “doorstep to doorstep” model, they’re currently mostly absent from the discussion.

Instead, the city has been studying parking options for several years now with Sound Transit, the Port of South Whidbey, and others, but not WSF.

Next month, if my Mukilteo FAC co-committee members will indulge me, I’d like to dig much deeper into the ferry-related parking issues plaguing Mukilteo.

It’s really a huge and complex issue that because of a series of missteps, Mukilteo has really made no positive progress on.

For now, there’s really only two parking related items we should be thinking about.

First is the need to encourage the city to finally open up longer term (more than four hours) and paid commuter parking during the off-season at Lighthouse Park when there is no other parking demand.

Not only would this effectively resolve the current parking issues for two-thirds of the year, but it would also provide the necessary revenue to accomplish some of the above projects that the city can’t seem to figure out how to fund.

The second is a Long Range Planning meeting hosted by WSF at the Clinton Community Hall on May 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This is your opportunity to stress the importance of WSF including parking issues for ferry riders in their long-term planning efforts.

Now that WSF is expanding their scope of responsibility to include parking, both ferry commuters and the Mukilteo community can benefit.

The Mukilteo FAC currently meets on the third Thursday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Rosehill Community Center.

Our next meeting will be on March 15.

Our meetings are very informal and are a great opportunity to understand the ferry related projects and how we can improve their impact on our community.

You can email us (Kevin Stoltz, Kendal Harr, Mark Mahnkey) at


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