Work on new Mukilteo ferry terminal begins with tank farm pier demolition

MUKILTEO — Demolishing a World War II-era pier to make way for a new $129 million ferry terminal isn’t easy work.

The pier opened in 1940, serving the nearby U.S. Air Force’s bulk fuel storage facility, which closed in 1989.

Just a little more than a month into the pier removal project, workers are still trying just to clear the top of the structure. That’s involved removing 12,000 feet of fuel lines, 800 40-gallon bags of asbestos, several tons of grass and other organic material that grew on the pier during the 26 years since it was closed, as well as railings, catwalks and mercury-filled lights.

The next step is removing wood pilings containing an estimated 7,000 tons of toxic creosote. That’s about 4 percent of all the creosote left in Puget Sound, said Nicole McIntosh, director of terminal engineering for the Washington State Ferries.

The pilings and material from the top of the pier are being taken to a nearby barge for disposal.

The piling and pier removal project will continue until February 2016. There will be a six-month pause so as to not interfere with fish migrations, then it will resume again in August. The project is expected to be completed in February 2017.

Sixteen workers are on site daily. Pier and concrete deck removal is starting at about a third of the way up from the shore to allow for sediment sampling. Water samples are taken at least twice daily to ensure the work doesn’t affect water quality.

McIntosh has been involved with the terminal planning project for a decade. “It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

The project involved working with a number of groups, including the Port of Everett, the City of Mukilteo, Sound Transit, the Tulalip Tribes, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Now that it’s under way, “I can’t even describe the excitement I have,” McIntosh said. “It’s an extremely important project.”

The new ferry terminal will replace a terminal that is 60 years old. The Mukilteo-Clinton route transports people in 2.1 million cars and trucks, more than any other route in the ferry system.

The new terminal won’t just be an arrival and departure point for people and cars. It’s designed to be a transit center, making it easy for people planning bus and train connections, McIntosh said. There will be room for six buses, operated by Everett Transit and Community Transit. And the terminal will be closer to the Sounder station for passengers using rail transit.

About a third of the design of the new terminal is now completed. The Legislature recently approved $68.6 million for the terminal project. Last year, the project was awarded a $4.7 million grant from the federal Department of Transportation.

Construction on the new terminal is expected to begin in 2017, and with it will come construction traffic. The plan is to make deliveries during non-peak times to try to avoid adding more traffic to an already congested area, McIntosh said.

An open house on the project will be scheduled in the fall in Mukilteo, she said. The new terminal is scheduled to open in 2019.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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