Where we’re at with the terminal project l Guest View

By Kevin Stoltz, Chair, Mukilteo Ferry Advisory Committee | Sep 19, 2018

Despite more delays plaguing the construction of the new Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, there’s still a lot happening that we as Mukilteo residents need to be aware of. The most recent delay caused by the lowest valid bid for the construction of the new terminal building coming in at $18 million over the budgeted amount will result in the overall project now being slated to be finished closer to the end of 2020 or about a year later than originally planned.

Whereas the council was previously pressured to make some decisions without adequate consideration and input from the affected community in order to not delay the new terminal project, now there is some time to rethink how some of the previous decisions may really impact our community and there’s time to change what we can mitigate and what we can’t.

As we head down SR-525 towards the ferry, here’s an update of where we are now and some of the items impacting the Mukilteo community (you can visually follow along by viewing the latest drone video at https://youtu.be/XhUXwKZK25M).

Starting at the beginning of the video (but easier seen at the end) we’re sitting over the intersection of SR-525 and 2nd Street where the new crosswalk was planned to be installed. Originally, the intent of the crosswalk at 2nd Street was to allow pedestrians a safer place to cross SR-525 rather than having to cross the new 1st Street (where the toll booths are currently located) with their back to ferry traffic turning right heading for the new terminal.

WSDOT later came to the city with some options that would squeeze the four traffic lanes across the bridge to free up an addition four feet for sidewalks. Council decided to widen the sidewalk on the East side (to your right on the video) of the bridge from 3.5 feet to 7.5 feet and leave the other side as is, thereby resulting in a safer way to cross SR-525 (towards Lighthouse Park) only to be met with having to cross the bridge on the existing narrow 3.5-foot sidewalk as opposed to the new 7.5-foot sidewalk on the other side.

Later, WSDOT came back to the city and said that in addition to the new signalized intersection at 1st Street, for safety reasons they would have to also make the planned crosswalk at 2nd Street a fully signalized intersection.

While the emphasis was that they could synchronize the two intersections so as to not impede the flow of traffic off the ferry, there was no consideration for the additional congestion created for those of us trying to get to Old Town, Lighthouse Park, and the general waterfront area. After recognizing the problems associated with the crosswalk at 2nd Street, the council wisely voted to cancel the crosswalk plans.

That brings us back to the original new intersection at 1st Street (where the toll booths are currently located). There is a crosswalk across 1st Street and on the downward side of SR-525, but still none planned for the upward side of SR-525.

So, for people headed to Lighthouse Park, they’d have to cross 1st Street (with their backs towards the right-hand turning ferry traffic) and then again at SR-525. Instead, many of us are advocating for what we have been since the beginning of the project which is adding the missing crosswalk on the upland side of SR-525 so pedestrians heading towards Lighthouse Park only have to cross one four-lane road instead of two, and would cross at a point where they’re able to see the right-hand turning ferry traffic to their left rather than their backs.

Other recent concerns that have come to light, especially considering the cost cutting measures that may be necessary to rebid the new terminal construction, is the security fencing at the new terminal as well as the access from the new holding area to Mukilteo waterfront businesses.

Staying ahead of the decisions that will be made on the security fencing will be important as WSF rebids the new terminal project. Equally important will be opening up the discussion of providing access to Mukilteo’s waterfront businesses from the fenced ferry holding area where the decision has previously been made not to provide access.

Finally, the issue of Mukilteo Lane comes (back) into play. The new 1st Street that feeds the new ferry terminal will continue on the water side of the railroad tracks and connect to the road towards Edgewater Beach/Boeing Pier and to Mukilteo Lane (on the other side of the railroad tracks) via the Mt. Baker Railroad crossing (this is where the drone video turns around and heads back towards the ferry terminal).

There is some current (and previous) concern that the design of the new ferry terminal and the associated road infrastructure will encourage traffic to use Mukilteo Lane and will result in not only more vehicle/pedestrian conflict on Mukilteo Lane (a narrow sub-standard road with limited shoulders and no sidewalks), but also result in additional traffic passing trough the nearby residential neighborhood.

Not only is the exit from the Sounder parking lot pointed towards the Mt. Baker crossing, but the designated ferry drop-off/pick-up area is also very close making Mukilteo Lane an easy shortcut for anyone wishing to avoid the two new intersections that are part of the project.

Unfortunately, the mitigation agreements were passed by the council at the end of 2017 without adequately addressing the previous concerns raised regarding traffic mitigation (“Condition 56” of the hearing examiners decision) and the concerns later raised regarding Mukilteo Lane. It seems like the city, WSF and WSDOT are willing to work together to address these outstanding issues although it does appear the city will be left holding the bag if they don’t embrace some of the leverage they may have.

Now for some important announcements:

The WSF Long Range Plan online open house is available through Oct. 25 at https://wsflongrangeplan.com/. Unfortunately, Mukilteo didn’t make the cut for the community meeting again, which is and remains a sore point of the Mukilteo FAC. The reason given is, “… we’re not doing an open house in Mukilteo because with limited capacity, we have to focus on communities in which the majority of our passenger reside.  Additionally, we’ve found in the past very few people from other communities attend.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. we are meeting at Rosehill with representatives from WSF and WSDOT to walk the new ferry terminal construction area and discuss current issues of concern and interest. This is open to the public so if you’d like to join us, be sure to be at Rosehill by 4 p.m., as we’ll be walking after that.

On Thursday, Sept. 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., we’ll be having our regular Mukilteo FAC meeting at Rosehill. Future meetings will be on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Rosehill. This meeting is open to all and we encourage you to attend.

The Mukilteo FAC shares information from Washington State Ferries with the local community and works with WSF to answer questions and resolve ferry related problems affecting our community. For more information about the Mukilteo Ferry Advisory committee contact Kendal Harr or myself at MukilteoFAC@gmail.com.

 

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