Few at ferry meeting discuss Seattle waterfront work

All must be well among state ferry riders, considering few bothered to attend the latest round of community meetings, including me.
I finally caught up with Washington State Ferries director David Moseley and his roving band last week in Bremerton. Four or five others joined me in the Fountain Room. They more than doubled the Southworth crowd, which was a ferry advisory member and reporter.
Much of the discussion revolved around work along the Seattle waterfront. It’s going to be an ever-changing mess there for the better part of a decade, with the tunnel and seawall and Colman Dock refurbishing.
People are getting used to the Mother’s Day dock detour, said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Linea Laird. It was the first big change getting to the ferries in 20 years. They had to tweak signage and traffic lights, but it seems to be working OK.
“We know it’s a big deal,” Laird said of getting around the construction. “It’s going to be out there for a while, and we have the opportunity to make it better.”
It’s a massive coordination effort, Moseley said. WSF, the city, county, port and DOT meet every other week. They’re still going to miss stuff, and Laird asked for public help when that happens.
“Have some patience and give us some feedback,” she said.
This year they’ll be digging huge pits about two miles apart. Next spring they’ll float in a huge drill rig from Japan and start digging from pit to pit. The tunnel is expected to be opened to traffic the end of 2015. Then the viaduct will be razed.
That’s about when they’ll start renovating Colman Dock. It won’t be shut down. They’ll have to work around the ferry operation. Construction should be completed in 2020. Now they’re going through the environmental process. The estimated cost is $210 million.
A new bicycle lane is ready to go, but it’s being blocked by construction. It’s an automated, card-reading gate that will save WSF money. A bicycle commuter Thursday said it’s too far north and puts bicyclists among crazy drivers. Moseley said give it a chance and see what happens.
“If it’s not working, we’ll make it work,” he said.

Moseley gave an update on ferry construction. Two 144-car boats will replace Evergreen State-class ferries, which can carry 87 cars. That swap will increase capacity without adding to the number of boats.
The first 144-car ferry is under construction. It will be delivered in early 2014 and be operating by spring of that year. The second one will follow about a year later. The cost of the first one is $115 for construction and $145 overall. For the second, it’s $129 million and $109 million, respectively.

The state Legislature and governor this year gave Washington State Ferries 17 performance measures it has to start reporting. They include things like terminal and vessel projects completed on time and on budget, limiting crew and passenger injuries, passenger satisfaction, operating costs per mile, overtime, fuel consumption, vessel out-of-service time, on-time performance and trip reliability.
The ferry system doesn’t view it as government sticking its nose into its business.
“I think it’s great,” Moseley said. “It’s important to me that the public knows there’s a standard we’re held to. I think we’re going to meet or exceed them, and it’ll be a transparent way for us to show to our customers how we’re doing.”

There’s one more local meeting, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Kingston Community Center, 11212 Highway 104. They usually draw a bigger crowd up there.

One thought on “Few at ferry meeting discuss Seattle waterfront work

  1. WSF has made up their mind. They think they can tear down the terminal and build a new one with no impact to commuters. Good luck WSF, or should I say, good luck commuters.

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