Ferry dock rebuild begins next month

About a month from now, ferry commuters in Clinton will have to get used to parking farther up the hill while waiting for their boat to dock.

In early November, Washington State Ferries will close the north half of the Clinton ferry dock as Manson Construction begins the second phase of the dock’s five-year reconstruction project.

As MKB Constructors did during the first phase of the project between 1998 and 2000, Manson — a nationwide construction company — will demolish the remaining half of the 40-year-old wooden dock and replace it with one made of concrete and steel. When the company finishes its work, Clinton will have a three-slip dock that is more than 50 percent larger than the old one.

The work will be expensive. As one of the last major capital projects to receive funding before Initiative 695 yanked the ferry system’s motor vehicle excise tax income two years ago, the Clinton dock reconstruction will cost about $27 million. Manson Construction came to State Ferries with the lowest of four bids submitted during the summer. The company will do the work for just under $12 million.

MKB Constructors’ bid of $13.8 million was the highest received by the ferry system. MKB built the first half of the dock project for $12 million.

Russ East, State Ferries’ director of terminal engineering, said Tuesday that commuters should expect more than two years of long ferry lines. He said engineers expect the reconstruction work to continue through December 2003.

During the two-year project, Manson Construction will expand the dock by more than 30 percent. The company will replace the dock’s wooden wing walls and dolphins with steel structures, replace the dock’s bulkhead, and completely rebuild the dock itself.

When work reaches its peak, the dock’s holding capacity will be reduced by about 40 cars. Those cars will have to wait uphill from the dock, East said.

To move cars quickly through the waiting line and to keep the ferries running on schedule, State Ferries and Manson will move the toll booths into a new configuration and keep more booths open during the day. During the first phase of construction, the ferry schedule will be modified to accommodate much larger backups than those that are expected to result from the next phase of construction.

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