Mukilteo ferry terminal upgrade eyed

Islanders riding the ferry to Mukilteo will find better facilities sometime in the future, but exactly what they will look like is yet to be decided.

The Mukilteo ferry terminal is described by the ferry system as deteriorating and major repairs are needed to continue to provide safe and reliable ferry service.

Those interested in learning more about plans to improve or upgrade the terminal are invited to review and comment on the latest environmental documents at upcoming meetings or online.

The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently released a draft environmental impact statement that evaluates four different alternatives to improve safety and operations at the terminal.

The alternatives include fixing the existing terminal, building a new terminal in the current location or relocating the terminal east of the existing site.

The Mukilteo/Clinton ferry route is the state’s busiest route for vehicles  and has the second highest annual ridership, serving more than four million riders in 2011. Passengers taking the route are expected to increase 73 percent by 2030.

“An improved multimodal terminal would make it easier for passengers to access trains and buses, in addition to improving safety and operations for vehicles and walk-on passengers,” said Marta Coursey, WSF director of communications, in a release.

The Mukilteo ferry terminal was built in 1952 and, despite being one of the busiest terminals, has some of the oldest equipment. Coursey said the wooden structures supporting the terminal need to be replaced; passenger connections between the ferry and nearby commuter rail and transit are inadequate; and the terminal area is quite congested.

There will be public hearings and an extended period of time to review and comment on the draft EIS. The 45-day comment period runs from Jan. 27 through March 12. All comments will be included in the final EIS and will be considered when the ferry system selects a preferred alternative.

Public hearings have been scheduled in Mukilteo and on Whidbey Island. At each meeting there will be a brief presentation at 6 p.m. and opportunities to review project information. Representatives from WSF, FTA and other partner agencies will be on hand to answer questions. A court reporter will record testimonies during the public hearing portion of the meetings.

Mukilteo: Wednesday, Feb. 22, 5 to 8 p.m., Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave.

Whidbey Island: Thursday, Feb. 23, 5 to 8 p.m., Clinton Community Hall, 6411 Central Ave.


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