An artist’s rendering of the new ferry terminal under construction in Mukilteo. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

An artist’s rendering of the new ferry terminal under construction in Mukilteo. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Mystery lady and noise at the Mukilteo waterfront explained

Walkers can now have a front row vantage point of the action as the new terminal takes shape.

MUKILTEO — Get off the couch and get a front row view of the progress being made on the new ferry terminal.

A pedestrian path near the transit center and the Sounder train station recently opened to walkers.

What better way to burn off the blubber from those holiday treats.

For now, the path is a temporary course that uses a sidewalk and First Street, both of which are newly paved.

Some spots will require stepping up or down a curb.

So have another cookie.

You have to walk to get there. The street is closed to cars until the new terminal opens.

After years of debate, setbacks, revisions and a pile of money — $187 million and change — the terminal is on track to open in the fall of 2020.

In 2018, the state Department of Transportation rejected bids for the construction phase because all of the proposals exceeded funds available. To help lower costs, construction was split into two separate contracts for upland buildings and marine structures.

Work on the terminal buildings, holding lanes, toll plaza and waterfront promenade began in early 2019 by IMCO General Construction of Ferndale. The toll plaza is taking shape and the second floor of the two-story passenger building is up.

Seattle-based Manson Construction won the bid for the marine elements. The in-water work requires welding in areas accessible only during extremely low tides, which occur during the overnight hours.

Welding operations are during the hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on 16 nonconsecutive nights in December and January, excluding Sundays. Noise from small power tools and the engine of the derrick crane is equivalent to a passing car or bus, and gradually dissipates for people 600 to 1,500 feet away, said Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Diane Rhodes.

So far, the noise hasn’t been bothersome. “I haven’t gotten a single phone call about the night work,” Rhodes said.

The only stir is about the figure who stands watch to monitor for marine mammals when crews do pile-driving in the water.

“One is in the lighthouse, and people saw this lady in the lighthouse, as they’ve been calling her, and they were freaking out. They thought people had broken into the lighthouse,” Rhodes said.

“We even had somebody call from the condominiums next to the lighthouse who thought the lady in the lighthouse was spying and looking into their building. She could, I suppose, but she’s not. She’s looking toward the water for orcas and any other protected species.”

Monitors are also stationed on the ferry and on the shore.

The existing terminal was built in 1957 to accommodate the much-lesser traffic of 62 years ago. The Mukilteo-Clinton route is the busiest in the ferry system in terms of vehicle traffic, with 2.3 million per year. The route is not the busiest overall in terms of passengers, numbering 4.2 million annually.

Andrea Brown:; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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