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Planning resumes on Mukilteo ferry terminal

After three years on the rear burner, the Mukilteo ferry terminal is back, as planners again ponder the fate of the aging, overworked facility.

One preliminary suggestion: Move the terminal out of Mukilteo altogether, to the north or to the south.

“It’s very early in the process,” Hadley Rodero, a private consultant working with the ferry system, cautioned Monday. “We’re studying all reasonable and prudent options.”

Those options range from doing nothing to improving the existing terminal, moving it down the Mukilteo waterfront or relocating it to Everett or Edmonds, she said.

“We’re considering the broadest range possible,” said Rodero, a communications specialist with the private consulting firm PRR in Seattle.

“No decisions have been made at this point,” she said. “We’ll gather public comment and scale down to the options that make sense.”

The first of many planned public meetings in the next two years are scheduled next week in Clinton and Mukilteo, along with an online discussion, she said.

The Clinton meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, at South Whidbey High School, 5675 Maxwelton Road, Langley.

The Mukilteo meeting will be the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mukilteo City Hall, 11930 Cyrus Way.

The online meeting, joined by registration, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.

The Clinton-Mukilteo ferry route, the second busiest for vehicle traffic and the third largest in annual ridership in the Washington State Ferries system, is a major section of a the well-traveled State Route 525. Rodero said future usage of the route is expected to increase 73 percent by 2030.

The wilting Mukilteo terminal has had no significant improvements since the early 1980s, Rodero said. Its cramped layout makes it difficult for passengers to get in and out of the terminal, and contributes to traffic congestion, safety concerns and conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian traffic, she said.

“The current terminal has a number of deficiencies that need to be addressed,” she said. “The main purpose of this is to fix it.”

She said the goal of the project is to reduce congestion, improve operations and safety and to accommodate other modes of transportation, especially buses and trains.

Earlier planning for the future of the terminal was suspended by the state Legislature in 2007 for funding and other reasons, Rodero said. This past February, it was reauthorized.

Current approved funding for the project is $63 million, Rodero said.

The timetable, sprinkled liberally with more public meetings, calls for public comments collected and an environmental impact statement obtained by 2012, a design completed by 2015 and construction completed by 2019.

The total cost has yet to be determined, Rodero said. She said that current funding likely wouldn’t cover the total cost of the project, which may have to be finished in stages.

“It depends on which option is chosen,” she said.

Rodero said that generally, the options so far are:

• Leaving the existing terminal as it is.

• Improving the existing site by upgrading the ferry slip, toll booths and passenger drop-off area, and improving bus and rail connections.

• Building a new pier, slip and terminal at the old World War II fuel-tank farm north of downtown Mukilteo and realigning First Street while improving bus and rail connections.

• Moving the terminal farther north, either to the site of the old rail-barge pier owned by the Port of Everett, or to the south end of the port itself.

• Relocating to Edmonds, which would serve both Kingston and Clinton after either upgrading the current Edmonds terminal, or building a completely new terminal less than a mile to the south.

Rodero said that all the options except the first would include at least one ferry slip, with an option for two; a new multi-bay transit area; a passenger pick-up and drop-off area; and holding lanes with reserved areas for bicycles, carpools and priority vehicles.

She said the Mukilteo options would include more than 40 new parking spaces in the city to replace those lost due to recent state and city projects, but she said those spaces probably wouldn’t be reserved for overnight commuters.

The loss of overnight parking spaces in Mukilteo during the past years has frustrated island commuters who park cars on each side of the water to avoid vehicle waiting lines.

Rodero said more detailed descriptions of the options being considered for the Mukilteo terminal will be posted beginning next week on the state Department of Transportation’s website.

She said the detailed information also will be available at next week’s meetings.

“This project has been on hold for quite awhile,” said Rodero, who for years was employed by the ferry service before entering the consulting business. “We’re just getting back up and running.”

All public comment in this first phase of the project’s planning is due before

Nov. 19, Rodero said. For information, to send a comment, or to register for the online meeting, e-mail hrodero@prrbiz.com.

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