Whidbey events alter Mukilteo work

Complaints from Whidbey Island residents prompted Washington State Ferries to alter scheduled closings of Mukilteo ferry terminal.

Complaints over closures, which interfered with three Whidbey Island events, influenced WSF to slightly shift the planned dates.

Previously slated for Feb. 22-23 and March 1-2, closures will now take place March 1-2 and 8-9. Ferry traffic will be rerouted to Edmonds and crossing time will be approximately 50 minutes.

The February closure date would have coincided with Langley's Mystery Weekend, while the March 1-2 dates still occur the weekend of the Whidbey Island Writers Conference and the Coupeville Mussel Festival.

Susan Harris-Huether, spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries, said WSF changed the closures because of the response from Whidbey Island event coordinators and residents.

"We got a lot of feedback from the community and didn't want to impede on the event," Harris-Huether said of Mystery Weekend.

Jack Leengran, chairman on the Clinton Ferry Advisory Committee, said the weekend event was completely off WSF radar screens when the closures were planned.

"We had completely forgotten about Mystery Weekend," he said.

While Mystery Weekend is safe, the Whidbey Island Writers Conference and the Mussel Fest aren't so lucky.

Celeste Mergens, founder of the Whidbey Island Writers Conference, said while pleased Mystery Weekend got a closure date change, she was disappointed communities were not notified of the closures before decisions had been made. Though the same was not offered her event, organizers did what they could.

Mergens said Thursday several people involved with the conference called WSF, the Clinton Ferry Advisory Committee and State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen to try to change the dates.

"I feel like it got handled OK -- not ideally, but OK," Mergens said. "They (Washington State Ferries) really went to bat and checked out what they could do."

Loretta Martin, director of the Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, said the ferry system had recognized its errors.

"For once they've really responded quickly," she said. "They deserve praise for responding to the community."

A partial closure of the Mukilteo terminal Feb. 3-7 will still take place as originally scheduled. Ferry traffic will be rerouted to Edmonds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on those dates.

The weekend closures will begin after the 1:05 a.m. sailing Saturday morning. Service to the terminal will resume each Monday with the 4:40 a.m. Clinton to Mukilteo sailing.

As planned, a public information meeting will be held Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Fireside Room at Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland, to answer questions from ferry customers.

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