Ferry dock seeing double during Mukilteo detour

Edmonds must deal with two runs

By JANICE PODSADA

Herald Writer

EDMONDS — Like hundreds of other folks, Phyllis Skaugrud is proud of the new "Clinton" sign on her dashboard.

While the country may lack direction, Skaugrud is convinced she’s headed down the right road.

A show of support for a third presidential term for Bill Clinton?

Hardly.

Skaugrud and others are displaced commuters whose yellow signs help ferry workers steer them onto the Clinton ferry, now loading and unloading at Edmonds during the day, rather than at Mukilteo.

The Mukilteo ferry dock is undergoing a $1.4 million renovation that will be completed Feb. 12.

To ensure that commuters waiting for the Clinton boat don’t end up in Kingston, ferry staff are handing out yellow Clinton placards to motorists.

Motorists place the 81/2- by 5-inch signs on the dashboard.

With the Mukilteo ferry terminal closed to car-ferry traffic Sunday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., motorists have been rerouted to the Edmonds ferry dock.

The placards help ease the transition for thousands of commuters who have spent the week adjusting to ferry schedule changes

"Traffic is down a little. I think the first couple of days is a feeling-out period for everyone," said Leonard Smith, ferry project manager for the closure.

But Smith said he expects today’s F traffic to pick up.

Regular car-ferry service from Mukilteo to Clinton operates on Saturdays.

Most commuters are taking the changes in stride, though several said they didn’t know about the midday closure until they arrived at the wrong dock.

Keith Watson of Seattle drove to Mukilteo on Tuesday, and discovered the only ferry running to Clinton was passengers-only.

"I had to turn around and drive all the way back to Edmonds," Watson said.

Commuters, especially those who live in north Snohomish County or Skagit County, said they’re driving farther and waiting in line longer for the Edmonds-Clinton ferry.

"It’s an inconvenience," said Glen Lamphiear of Bellingham. "The ferries are later."

Debra Congdon, of Langley, said the switch has put extra miles on the speedometer.

"I had a doctor’s appointment in Everett. I had to drive from Edmonds to Everett and back," said Congdon, who normally disembarks in Mukilteo.

But given a choice between the Mukilteo terminal shutting down completely for three weeks and the current schedule, which provides car-ferry rush-hour service, she chooses the latter.

The majority of commuters are taking things in stride, said Jay Struthers, who conducted an unofficial study from the Terminal Caffeine Espresso stand next to the Edmonds ferry lanes.

"Two out of five commuters have negative comments," said Struthers, who works at the espresso stand weekdays. "Some people are frustrated. A lot of people haven’t figured out the times."

But Skaugrud, armed with her yellow Clinton sign, said that so far it has been smooth sailing. "I think everything’s been handled very nicely," she said.

Skaugrud, of Freeland, commutes to Mercer Island three times a week to baby-sit her granddaughter.

The detour is an opportunity to stretch her legs.

"I don’t mind stopping here. I can shop downtown and see Edmonds while I wait for the ferry," she said.

Business owners said they hope the additional commuters will boost sales.

Struthers said he plans to increase his coffee order.

Seth Clarke, a bartender at Rory’s Tavern next to the terminal, said that although the tavern’s always busy, Clintonites are welcome.

"They’re just a little gravy," Clarke said.

Kingston commuters didn’t seem to mind that one of their lanes was appropriated for Clinton commuters.

"It’s OK they took a lane," said Robin White of Port Townsend. "Come on — this is life."

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