ferry terminal now open
Photo courtesy Washington State Ferries
The new ferry terminal in Mukilteo takes its design cues to look like a Coast Salish (Native American) longhouse on the inside and features similar design features on the exterior.
MUKILTEO — The new ferry terminal opened Dec. 29 with the first sailing departing for Clinton at 6:10 p.m. after press time. The project is expected to be fully complete in February, but is currently operational with ferries running every 30 minutes.
The project has been in motion for nearly two decades and cost $187 million.
The newly constructed terminal is expected to reduce loading times on the busiest ferry route in the state by allowing walk-on and drivers to load at the same time. The old terminal, located less than a mile west, required walk-on passengers to load the ferry through the car deck, forcing the loading to be done in two phases. An overhead walkway in the new terminal will allow walk-on passengers to load through the upper pedestrian deck.
In addition to reducing loading times, the new terminal’s location is expected to reduce the number of cars on the shoulder of the Mukilteo Speedway and traffic on Front Street. About a third of a mile east down the shoreline, the terminal’s relocation helps isolate and separate ferry traffic from those just wanting to enjoy the Mukilteo waterfront.
The longer, 700-foot vehicle holding lanes have the capacity for one and a half ferries. A new access street off of Mukilteo Speedway draws ferry traffic off the highway by up to 50 cars, according to Washington State Ferries (WSF) spokeswoman Diane Rhodes.
Rhodes said because of COVID-19, the entire project was forced to stop for six weeks and lately materials have been harder to get with the restrictions put in place over the past few months. Because of this, completing the overhead walkway has been delayed until February.
The new terminal’s property was bought by the Port of Everett in the early 2000s and was then “divvied up amongst the Port of Everett’s partners, of which WSF was one of them,” Rhodes said. The land was previously used by the U.S. Air Force as a fueling station, requiring a clean-up of the toxic debris left behind.
In January, construction crews will begin to demolish the old terminal structures on land and in Puget Sound. The road adjacent to Ivar’s, which acted as a loading dock, will become a pocket park along the waterfront.
In order to open the terminal, the navigational floats that help ferry captains arrive safely had to be relocated. In the middle of the night, the floats were unchained from the ocean floor by divers and pulled by tug boats up the shoreline to be put in place. After the floats were installed, ferry captains had to practice arriving to and departing from the terminal to get used to the currents of the new location.
A 13-hour suspension of the Mukilteo-Clinton route was to make final preparations and precautions taking place prior to the terminal’s first sailing. The first ferry to arrive at the terminal was expected at 5:50 p.m.
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