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State Ferries chief promises meeting to discuss Clinton’s traffic congestion woes
A small but vocal crowd of 15 at a public meeting Thursday let Washington State Department of Transportation, Ferries Division officials hear all about how Clinton is being left out.
Several in attendance were members of the recently established Clinton Community Council, and they had no qualms about voicing their frustration with ferries issues, such as traffic congestion. They also complained about the general state of Clinton, making clear hopes that the state agency may be able to help.
“It’s a disgrace when you have to negotiate potholes when you want to drop someone off at the ferry,” said Peter Van Giesen, a Clinton Community Council member.
During the meeting — part of a regional tour of ferry locations by agency Chief David Moseley and his staff — division officials updated the public on the latest information about the proposed Mukilteo Ferry Terminal. And though the Clinton residents were happy to hear the former military oil tank farm is now in the possession of the Port of Everett, they were more interested in what can be done to alleviate ferry lane traffic on South Whidbey.
State Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, warned that implemented and scheduled fare changes are hurting lower income families on Whidbey Island.
“What you’re putting the squeeze on is the diversity of our communities,” she said.
The need for work in Clinton was a major issue during the questions segment at the end of the two-hour meeting. Jack Lynch, a Clinton Community Council member, told Moseley about the poor state of the sidewalk that leads from the ferry into Clinton. It’s often covered with vegetation, which can lead to a slick surface when it’s wet and icy, he said.
“This community is bifurcated by the state highway … our downtown commercial area is suffering,” he said, adding that three businesses have left in the past year.
They include Good Cheer Too, Jim’s Hardware and Wild Birds Unlimited. All the storefronts remain vacant.
According to Moseley, highway and sidewalk issues beyond the ferry, which Clinton Community Council member Doug Hofius called the “handoff,” were out of his direct control and are the domain of the Department of Transportation’s Northwest region office. However, Moseley promised to organize a meeting with the Northwest office, Ferries Division and Clinton in the first quarter of 2014.
Considering economic implications in the area, Port Commissioner Curt Gordon asked Moseley about a possible freight lane at the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route’s terminals. He reminded Moseley that Ferries promised it would be implemented in 2013.
“And we’re just about running out of time here,” Gordon said.
Moseley said a freight lane in the holding area was being considered, and noted that such a lane on the Coupeville-to-Port Townsend route is the top route for vehicles longer than 50 feet, which is the best money-maker for Ferries per square foot.