Mukilteo could lose state ferry terminal to Everett, Edmonds
Ferry officials have 9 options they want the public to mull
Dan Bates / The Herald
Foot passengers walk off the Washington State Ferry Chelan ahead of vehicles after it docks in Mukilteo on Wednesday morning.
Dan Bates / The Herald
En route to Mukilteo from Clinton on Wednesday afternoon, the Washington State Ferry Cathlamet is seen against the North Cascades and Everett when viewed from the Chelan, which was traveling to Clinton.
Or it may just stay right where it is.
Washington State Ferries is once again trying to come up with a solution to its problem child of a terminal. The antiquated traffic layout at Mukilteo has contributed to accidents and clogged streets for decades.
State officials have drawn up nine alternatives and want to hear from the public.
The options include moving the terminal to Point Edwards in Edmonds, or rerouting the Clinton ferry to the Edmonds Ferry Terminal, which serves Kingston.
The state also is considering spots near the former Air Force tank farm east of the current dock and even the Port of Everett's South Terminal.
The Everett option would mean thousands of people would have to pass through downtown every day on their way to and from Whidbey Island.
As history has shown, officials could also choose to do nothing.
With the exception of the no-build choice, nearly all of the design concepts under consideration show one ferry slip, multiple transit bays, a pickup and drop-off area, and holding lanes with dedicated areas for bicycles and carpools.
That's a scaled-down version of what officials were thinking a few years ago.
An open house is set for 5 p.m. Thursday on the eighth floor of the Wall Street Building, 2930 Wetmore Ave. in Everett.
The response from area leaders so far has been chilly.
“I do not support having a ferry terminal in Everett,” Mayor Ray Stephanson said. “The only economic advantages I can see are lattes, ice cream and chowder.”
Stephanson also is worried about traffic, security issues with Naval Station Everett next door and the impact on operations at the Port of Everett.
Meanwhile, Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper said he's asked the state to forget about having the Whidbey ferries share the Edmonds terminal on Main Street. “That adds about 17 boats a day,” he said.
He doesn't have a problem with a ferry terminal at Point Edwards. The state says the crossing to Whidbey Island from Point Edwards would take 50 minutes.
Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine said he likes the tank farm option that pushes a potential terminal the farthest east. However, he'd like to see a parking garage “so we don't have a sea of sprawled parking” and so the project could tie into a Sound Transit rail station.
The Mukilteo terminal is one of the state's busiest, yet it's perched on the same wood pilings planted into the beach front in 1952. “We have a lot of room to improve safety,” said Nicole McIntosh, an engineering manager for the state ferry system.
The state wanted to explore every possible site along the waterfront in the area, she said. Experts have performed analyses of the options and rated each on factors such as traffic, commute times and connectivity to transit.
The site with the fewest drawbacks is the former tank farm right on the border of Mukilteo and Everett, but one obstacle could be serious. American Indian artifacts have been found there.
Since 1972, the state has recognized that the terminal needs a major upgrade but has failed to follow through.
The state planned to build a new terminal on the former tank farm site a few years ago. The project was set aside in 2007 by the Legislature when costs were projected to be as high as $300 million. Officials also determined that soil on the proposed site wasn't suited for building.
The state did give Washington State Ferries money to continue studying the tank farm area, and the study turned up some suitable spots.
Last year, lawmakers also kicked in $63.3 million for planning a terminal and beginning work. Officials are waiting for the options to be narrowed down before trying to estimate the cost.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The state wants to replace the aging Mukilteo Ferry Terminal and has come up with nine options. A meeting is planned for 5 tonight on the eighth floor of the Wall Street Building, 2930 Wetmore Ave., Everett.
To find out about the options, go to tinyurl.com/WSFterminal.
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