MUKILTEO — People will have a chance Wednesday evening to see plans and give their opinions on construction of the new $129 million ferry terminal in Mukilteo.
The meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rosehill Community Center. It’s an opportunity for the public to weigh in on issues including the building’s sustainable design features, its restrooms and vending machines, and the overhead loading structure for pedestrians, said Laura LaBissoniere, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Ferries.
Safety is a key issue, she said. The ferry system is working closely with the City of Mukilteo to help with what can be heavy traffic approaching the ferry terminal and to find ways for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely board the ferry, she said.
The new ferry terminal is scheduled to open in mid-2019. Last year, the Mukilteo-Clinton route was the busiest route in the state ferry system, used by 2.23 million cars and trucks, or 21.3 percent of the ferry system’s vehicle traffic. The new facility is replacing the 60-year-old terminal.
Kevin Stoltz, who lives in Mukilteo, said he has concerns about preliminary plans he’s seen on traffic flows for vehicles leaving the new terminal area. Squeezing two lanes of traffic coming off the ferry into a single lane near the area of the existing toll booths will cause greater slowdowns, he said.
Currently, the reduction from two lanes to a single lane occurs near Fifth Street and occurs at a spot where the speed increases to 35 mph from 25 mph, he said.
“Not only are they adding another intersection, but they’re merging it into one lane through two signalized intersections and uphill,” he said of the ferry system’s plans. “I believe it’s reasonable for ferry commuters to have the expectation that with a new ferry terminal being built in Mukilteo, the commute time shouldn’t be worse than it is today.”
Employees with the state Department of Transportation said the goal isn’t to slow down traffic.
“We’re just changing the point at which we lose a lane,” said Mike Swires, an assistant regional traffic engineer. “So the speed for the exiting traffic would be about the same. Drivers will experience a delay no matter where that lane reduction occurs.”
Also up for discussion is access to the ferry terminal for pedestrians and bicycles. The question is whether to make modifications to the existing bridge over the railroad tracks or to build a new one.
Estimates of the cost to build a new, separate bridge for bikes and walkers range from $3.5 million to $7 million, said John Chi, a project engineer for the state transportation department. The city received a $2.6 million grant for bike and pedestrian access, which has been turned over to the state transportation agency.
That could mean coming up with a million or more dollars to construct a separate pedestrian and bike bridge.
Modifying the current bridge also is under consideration. The sidewalk width would be increased to 5?1/2 feet from 3?1/2 feet. There would be designated bike lanes on both sides of Highway 525.
Whether the issue is traffic or pedestrian safety, “we’re coming into this with a very open mind,” said Travis Phelps, a transportation department spokesman. “We really want to hear from the community what they’re thinking.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.
An open house, where the public can see designs and make comments on plans for the new Mukilteo ferry terminal, is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave. in Mukilteo.