Ferry service returns to normal Friday

"Ferry service on the Clinton-Mukilteo run will resume normal service Friday afternoon, putting an end to the long midday trips to Edmonds as well as the passenger-only ferry service to Mukilteo.You won't be taking that lovely voyage to Edmonds any more, said Susan Harris, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries.Service on the route has been disrupted since late November as contractors worked to replace timber wingwalls on the Mukilteo side.The work was slated to last as late as Feb. 15, but the construction crew finished early.Leonard Smith, operations design coordinator for State Ferries, said Monday that the contractor had incentives to finish early and beat the expected completion date by one week. The Feb. 15 date was considered the worst case, Smith said, depending on the weather.But the weather this winter has generally been ideal for construction.We've had no bad weather, Smith said. It's been just wonderful. Only two passenger-only runs had to be scratched due to high winds, and the car ferries made all their appointed rounds.Smith said concrete was poured in the new steel pilings Monday and will be allowed to cure for a few days before the project is officially finished. It'll be all buttoned up by Friday at 2:45, Smith said.The passenger-only ferry, the St. Nicholas, will see its final day of operation on Friday. Its last departure from Clinton to Mukilteo will be at 2 p.m. Henceforth, the Cathlamet and Kittitas will resume their custom of taking cars and passengers between Clinton and Mukilteo on the regular ferry schedule.State Ferries went to great lengths to make the service disruption palatable, and it worked out well, according to Jack Leengran, the Langley resident who chairs the North Sound Ferry Advisory Committee. Everybody was pretty satisfied, he said Tuesday. In fact, some people are sorry it's going away.Although the trip to Edmonds doubled the time it takes to reach the mainland, many islanders enjoyed the extended cruise and, on clear days, outstanding views of both the Olympics and Cascade mountain ranges and Mount Rainier towering to the south.The passenger-only ferry also built up a faithful clientele that enjoyed the quick trip to Mukilteo and convenient bus service to a parking lot that Boeing made available during the construction period.The St. Nicholas won't be gone for long, however. It is owned by Mosquito Fleet, which plans a week-long demonstration service between Everett, Clinton, Edmonds and Seattle beginning Feb. 19.The new steel wingwalls at the Mukilteo dock are expected to last 20 to 30 years, according to Smith. The wooden ones they replaced were good for a maximum of 10 years. The longest steel piling is 145 feet long, weighs 23 tons and was driven 82 feet into the sea bed.The new steel structure can absorb a much harder landing than timber wingwalls and reduces the chance of a hard landing causing a service disruption. "

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