Colman Dock work to add to waterfront activityJune 7th, 2011 by ed friedrich
There’s going to be a whole lot of construction going on in and
around Colman Dock the next decade.
With the Alaskan Way Viaduct coming down, a tunnel being bored and a seawall being replaced, it’s going to be a mess getting to and from the Seattle ferries.
And it won’t just be the roads. Colman Dock itself is resting on 73-year-old wooden pilings. They don’t last forever, no matter how much creosote you slop on them. They need to be replaced by concrete pilings. That’ll start happening in late 2015 or 2016, Washington State Ferries director David Moseley said during a Bremerton community meeting Monday night. A good deal of the terminal will go by the wayside. The work will run through 2020, he said. The state expects to get lots of federal money for the project because it’s multimodal, the “in” thing these days.
There will be a lot of detours for ferry users.
“It’s going to be problematic for a while,” Moseley said. “Our big concern is access. We want to make sure our customers have good access to the ferry terminal.”
The Department of Transportation owns a lot of property down there – Pier 52 (Colman Dock), Pier 50 (the passenger-only ferry dock) and Pier 48 – and waterfront planners have their eyes on it. They have plotted four areas for “public congregation,” and DOT owns two of them, Moseley said. They’re talking about building a rooftop park on Colman Dock, plus doing something at Pier 48, where that old Russian sub and the Princess Marguerite used to be.
I’ll never forget as a six-grader at East Port Orchard Elementary getting up at 4 in the morning to ride the ocean liner to Victoria, visiting the Empress and museum, riding the double-decker bus, then coming home late that same night as some sort of field trip. That was so cool. I still have postcards somewhere, unless they were thrown out with my baseball cards.
Anyway, Moseley said the new generation of ocean liner riders need more to do than watch salmon being thrown at Pike Place Market, and bringing them down to the dock could be a good thing. They could hop a ferry to Bremerton and spend all kinds of money here.
“Colman Dock has challenges, but I think it might well work to create quite a focal point and bring in a lot of visitors,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to attract visitors and tourists to the south end of the waterfront and encourage people to take ferry rides.”
Moseley said Pier 50, where the Kingston and King County passenger-only ferries dock now, won’t be there for them indefinitely, but they probably can use it five or six more years.
Bremerton mayor Patty Lent and ferry commuter Joan Dingfield wondered whether a passenger-only ferry dock should be part of Seattle’s waterfront planning. It’s funny how, against all odds, so many people assume there’ll be a Seattle-Bremerton passenger-only ferry. While it’d be nice to reach Seattle in half an hour, there is no fast ferry invented that can get through Rich Passage without tearing up the beaches. Kitsap Transit is working on one, and we should know within a year if it works. Even if it does, though, there’s no money to operate it, and residents haven’t shown any desire to pitch in, twice voting down transportation districts.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Port of Kingston’s SoundRunner passenger-only service pans out. Unlike Bremerton, it doesn’t have to worry about beaches, operating money and competing against state ferries. It can concentrate on just getting riders.
Other tidbits from Monday night:
The crew for the second 64-car ferry, the Salish, started training with it Monday. WSF hopes to have it in service on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route by the Fourth of July Weekend. It wants to get the third and final 64-car boat, the Kennewick, working the south end of Vashon by Christmas.
The first new 144-car ferry is supposed to bump the 57-year-old Evergreen State into retirement, but Moseley said he’s hoping to keep it as the backup boat. The exiting backup, the Hiya, is 13 years newer but can only carry 34 cars. The Evergreen State can take 87 vehicles and unlike the Hiyu, is practical on most of the routes.