UPDATE | Ferry terminal work wrapped up, construction company to get bonus

Crews working to upgrade the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal completed the bulk of their work this past weekend, eliminating the need for a third closure planned for the weekend coming up, ferry officials said Monday.

A crew moves the apron back to the transfer span for mounting at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal last week.

The second weekend apparently was the charm.

Crews working to upgrade the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal completed the bulk of their work this past weekend, eliminating the need for a third closure planned for the weekend coming up, ferry officials said Monday.

Normal ferry service between Clinton and Mukilteo was restored as of the first sailing Monday morning, and the 50-minute cruise to Edmonds became history, at least for now, said Marta Coursey, Washington State Ferries spokeswoman.

“I think it went pretty well, considering we all had a steep learning curve,” Coursey said of the closures on consecutive Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the past 10 days.

“Our customers were really great,” she added. “They were understanding, and adjusted their travel plans.”

As with the first closure of the Mukilteo terminal the previous weekend, this past Friday afternoon and evening were the most problematic, as Clinton commuters on their way home converged on the Edmonds waterfront.

“There was a perfect storm combination of trains, vessel delays, stalled vehicles — all those things already piled on commuters,” Coursey said. “But we got through it.”

The Edmonds-Clinton detour added to the congestion on the Edmonds waterfront, which already accommodates the ferries to and from Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Clinton ferry travelers had to wait for trains to cross the road, and had to make sure they were in the correct improvised holding lanes.

Coursey said travel on both Saturdays and Sundays during the closures was lighter than normal, as islanders altered their travel plans, drove over the Deception Pass Bridge or simply stayed home.

The Clinton-Mukilteo route is one of the busiest in the WSF system. It carried nearly 3.9 million passengers in 2010, Coursey said.

“It all went smoothly, all in all,” she said of the detours.

This month’s project is part of a $2.6 million upgrade of the terminal at Mukilteo, and the two weekends’ worth of work came in under the $900,000 budget.

Crews worked around the clock during the two weekends, replacing aging mechanical and electrical systems and other deteriorated components at Mukilteo.

The overall project also includes bringing worker access areas into compliance with current safety standards, Coursey said.

She said that during the weekend closures, crews replaced the mechanical and electrical systems that control the transfer span and apron that link the ferry to the dock.

Coursey said the contractor will receive $150,000 in incentive pay for the early finish.

Coursey said that additional preservation work will continue for the next month during the evenings, but will not disrupt service.

She said that after the 8:30 p.m. sailing, traffic on the span will be limited to one lane.

“I greatly appreciate the patience and flexibility of our Whidbey Island and Mukilteo customers,” David Moseley, WSF assistant secretary, said Monday. “The work completed was vital to ensure the continued safe operation of the terminal.”

The announcement that there would be no further Edmonds detours this coming weekend was bittersweet for Clinton business owners who had cashed in on the longer waits between boats.

The local eatery Shirley’s Kitchen, at the foot of the Clinton ferry dock, did some of its best burger business ever during the first weekend of the Mukilteo closure. Owner Shirley Wilson said Monday that business this past weekend was not quite so brisk, but was still way above normal.

Wilson was pleased for islanders who won’t have to face another weekend of longer waits, but she’s already nostalgic for what once was.

“I’m sure a whole lot of people will be happy not going to Edmonds anymore,” she said.

“I’m probably the only one to be disappointed.”

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