Feds kick in $10M for new Mukilteo ferry terminal

MUKILTEO – The state learned Monday it will be getting a $10 million federal grant that should be the final piece of funding required for the new Mukilteo ferry terminal.

“These funds cement our ability to get a good project for the community,” said state Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood.

He, other lawmakers representing Snohomish and Island counties and state transportation officials have been trying for years to secure money to pay for the $129 million project that will put a new passenger terminal on the former tank farm site, one-third of a mile east of the existing facility.

Lawmakers earmarked chunks of dollars in the past two transportation budgets and then allocated $68.6 million in proceeds from the gas tax increase approved this summer.

That was still not enough. The state also is relying on financial aid it’s received from at least three federal transportation agencies.

The latest funds are coming by way of the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

“Great news today for the commuters, businesses and visitors who rely on the Mukilteo ferry terminal,” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said in a statement. “Investing in transportation infrastructure like the Mukilteo ferry terminal creates jobs and keeps our economy moving.”

In separate letters, Larsen and the state’s two Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to support the Washington State Ferries grant request.

The new Mukilteo facility will replace the current terminal used by 4 million vehicles and riders last year. The ferry system says it needs to be replaced because of its age and its susceptibility to earthquakes.

“We’re extremely pleased at getting the grant,” said Ian Sterling, ferry spokesman. “We will look at how these grant funds fit into the overall project.”

Design of the project is about 30 percent complete.

In August, workers began demolishing a World War II-era pier to make way for the terminal. The pier opened in 1940 to serve the nearby U.S. Air Force’s bulk fuel storage facility. It closed in 1989.

Removal of the pier and pilings is expected to continue until February then be halted for several months so as to not interfere with fish migrations. It is slated to resume in August 2016 and be completed the following February.

Construction of the new terminal is expected to start in 2017 and be done in 2019.

When it opens, there will be four vehicle toll booths and an elevated pedestrian loading bridge connecting to the upper passenger deck of ferries.

There also will be a six-bay bus transit center and improved connections to the nearby Sound Transit commuter rail station.

“With dramatic expansion happening all around the Puget Sound, it’s critical that our well-used ferry system keeps pace so it can continue to create jobs and serve families, workers, business owners, and freight customers,” Murray said in a prepared statement.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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