Pedestrian safe passage to the new Mukilteo Multimodal Transit Terminal l Guest View

By Kendal Harr, Mukilteo Ferry Advisory Committee | Feb 07, 2018

The vision for the new ferry terminal extends beyond better, safer service for drive-on ferry passengers.

While the Mukilteo-Clinton line currently has the highest car ridership in Washington state, the vision is to increase passenger and bike ridership, like Seattle, using the multimodal center that has easy access from the ferry to bus and train connections enabling easier commuting.

This fits well with the vision of Amy Scarton, Washington State Ferries Division assistant secretary: door-to-door service.

In her realistic view, most people’s commute does not just entail a ferry ride, but also includes walking, biking, bus or train ride to get from the door of their house to the door of their job or to their final destination.

In order for this to be successful, it is vital that walking and biking access to the ferry system not just be safe, but be perceived as safe by the commuters so they choose to walk or bike.

If people are uncomfortable, they won’t leave their cars; which also means that they will not frequent the Mukilteo businesses in Old Town.

The old bridge is a bottle neck for all commuters and is difficult to navigate to get to Elliott Point Park, the lighthouse and businesses.

A separate, safer pedestrian bridge plan was put forward by Washington Department of Transportation which would provide safe access for walkers coming from or through Old Town to the park without having to cross ferry traffic.

This option is safe for kids and does not result in a decrease in the size of the traffic lanes. (Traffic and trucks are also projected to increase so narrowing of the lanes in the previous road diet plan is more likely to result in accidents).

These plans were published online by the city of Mukilteo Planning Department for vote by the people in November of 2017.

The bridge would span the railroad track culvert and take people from near the corner of Arnie’s restaurant across and then down with a walkway under the bridge.

They included a couple of options including a switch back and a spiral.

The vast majority of over 50 people that voted in the couple of hours the survey was online voted in favor of the underpass and favored the spiral aesthetic regardless of increased cost.

Comments from Mukilteo citizens included:

  • “Getting more pedestrians off the crosswalks is a good idea.”
  • “The proposed designs seem like attractive options to our waterfront community. I like the underpass to allow for safer, more efficient traffic flow and to connect the park on both sides of 525. I think it’s an important addition.”

  • “Love the path to the park option!”

In closed-door discussions with WSDOT, the Mukilteo planning department decided to take down the survey as a cheaper plan was put forward.

The new plan is essentially a recycled “road diet” that was rejected by the Mukilteo City Council a couple of years ago, without the bike lane.

This new version of the road diet widens the sidewalk on one side of the street and decreases the lane sizes for traffic.

Pedestrians are not separated from the traffic but are on the sidewalk, which, considering the shrunken 10-foot ferry lane, may have truck mirrors impinging over the sidewalk.

Any hope of bike lane access, which would have been provided with the separate bridge, is gone in this plan.

Public input is a foundation and mainstay of public planning.

Yet, instead of letting the people vote on this new plan and the old plan, the Mukilteo planning department took this in front of the council on Tuesday, Jan. 16 asking for direction and appearing to try and steer the council to vote for the cheaper road diet.

No public input allowed - very disappointing management.

Thankfully, Councilmembers Cook and Kneller directed the planning department to move forward with the survey with all options represented.

A couple of key financial points:

  • The cost of the pedestrian bridge must be subsidized with state grants for pedestrian access at this point as the council has already voted to waive their/our right to funds from WSF for traffic mitigation.
  • Differences between the separate pedestrian bridge and the road diet in total projected costs are about $1.3 million depending on exactly which plan is enacted.
  • All of the projected budgets for the current plans are over the approximate $2.2 million state funding the city currently has.
  • All plans therefore required the city of Mukilteo to write for additional state funding varying between about $1 million to $2 million.
  • When one considers that the new ferry terminal development has a $135 million price tag and new possible NOAA development may be close to $100 million, $2 million for a significantly improved separate bike and pedestrian access where people could access the park, businesses, the new promenade and the transit center without having to cross or be directly next to the ferry traffic, especially in the summer, really doesn’t seem like that much money.

Please be aware that this opportunity to have your voice heard is coming up shortly.

Go to the city’s website and vote!

We favor the separate pedestrian bridge plan to encourage walking and biking in our community as well as to keep Mukilteo children safe.

We are happy to discuss this with you further and help you engage in this project.

Please contact Dr. Kendal Harr at drharr@gmail.com and/or Mark Mahnkey at Geezer@asylum.com for information and with any comments or questions that you might have.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.