EDITORIAL: No to new Keystone dock

Relocating the Keystone ferry dock looks like a great idea from many angles.

A new dock would allow for more ferry runs, more than two ferries on the Keystone-Port Townsend run, fewer tide cancellations, and a better flow of tourist traffic between Whidbey Island and the Olympic Peninsula. Maintenance would almost be a non-issue for both the boats and dock, since both the 75-year-old boats that work the run and the creaky wooden dock they use would be replaced.

Some environmentalists might even be happy with the change, since the creosoted wood dock would be pulled out of the water.

But all these plusses may not be enough to justify a multi-million dollar expense of a new dock and moving larger ferries off another run to serve this one.

As it is, the Keystone-Port Townsend run is one of a very few in Puget Sound that can still be considered quaint and relaxing. It is not a busy run, except for a few peak times during the weekend, and it caters primarily to tourist traffic.

At the same time, the Keystone dock’s surroundings are deserving of protection. A larger parking lot and more concrete are not what the area needs. Most of the land and water around the dock is rare wildlife habitat that is just barely in balance with human activity.

So island residents are right to be skeptical about the proposed construction of a new dock. When the Washington State Ferry System proves that there is a more compelling need for bigger ferries and a better dock, perhaps a change will be warranted. But for now, we prefer to keep things as they are.

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