Mukilteo Ferry Terminal – Moving to Tank Farm?

Mukilteo officials are sending a letter to Washington State Ferries that reiterates the city’s recommendation of moving the ferry terminal to the eastern side of the tank farm site.

WSF is considering four options to improve service and safety for all modes of transportation at the ferry terminal.

A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Mukilteo Multimodal Project was released on Jan. 27 that analyzes each of the options. The comment period on the draft EIS runs through March 12.

Mukilteo City Council approved a comment letter on the draft EIS by a 5-2 vote on Monday that recommends the ferry system go with the city’s “locally preferred option” – Elliot Point 1.

Councilmembers Kevin Stoltz and Steve Schmalz were against sending the letter because, they said, the city doesn’t have enough information yet to support an option.

The letter compares each of the four options and requests that the WSF also support Elliot Point 1 as the preferred option for the final EIS.

“I’ve now started saying, ‘Don’t ask me for my favorite alternative, because I will only tell you my least objectionable one,’” said Councilmember Randy Lord. “Everybody in this room knows that there is no good answer.”

“If the state wants to resolve their ferry terminal, I fully support it as long as this time they actually support the needs of the citizens of Mukilteo for a change. After decades of neglect, I am not willing to settle on a cheaper solution that is once again at the citizens’ expense.”

In the letter, the city argues that Elliot Point 1 is best option because it meets the most of the city’s objectives for waterfront redevelopment, compared to the other options.

The city lists 14 key objectives, such as the protection of cultural resources, reclaiming of public access to the waterfront, allowing for the construction of a new NOAA station and the reduction of traffic congestion on the Mukilteo Speedway.

Other objectives met through Elliot Point 1, according to officials, include the completion of a Sound Transit Commuter Rail platform and parking garage, the addition of a multimodal station and the possible relocation of the boat launch.

Officials also recommend some changes to the Elliot Point option, including relocating it on the tank farm so that it is not situated over the water.

“We would like to look for a better location so we don’t have it over the water,” said Heather McCartney, the city’s director of Planning and Community Development.

The city is also requesting that WSF let Mukilteo help during the design process of the project.

“We don’t have what we call a perfect solution,” McCartney said. “We want to continue working with them into making it a better alternative.”

The mayor said there will be a number of changes to the current designs because they aren’t – and can’t – be refined until a preferred option is selected.

At the public hearing, many Mukilteo residents requested that the council either reconsider its preferred option or at least analyze the option further before sending a comment letter.

“I think the city is moving much too rapidly to accept or choose an alternative that’s been given to them, and not enough time has been spent to stand up and say, ‘We don’t like the impacts here,’” said Charlie Pancerzewski.

“We need to address the needs of our city. We represent the needs of the residents of the city and not the Whidbey Island residents or ferry users.”

Christine Schmalz said that she – like many other residents in Mukilteo – don’t like the designs for the Elliot Point 1 option. She said there are better ways to develop the tank farm.

“We have hardly enough waterfront in Mukilteo, and let’s just go ahead and pave the rest?” she said. “I just don’t see how this is going to help anything to put a four-lane highway on the waterfront with parking.”

“And I see a little tiny strip for people to walk on in front of the parking and the highway, and it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The four options include one to improve the existing site, two that relocate the terminal to the Tank Farm and a “no build” or do-nothing option.

All of the options keep the ferry in Mukilteo and maintain a 15-minute crossing from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island.

Elliot Point 1, which is estimated to cost $150-$165 million, relocates all terminal structures to the eastern side of the tank farm. The ferry slip would be located about 250 feet offshore (because of the sloping shoreline) and would require a longer pier and trestle.

A new passenger and maintenance building would be located over the water and an overhead passenger loading ramp would allow for easier walk-ons. The current location of the holding lanes would be open for redevelopment.

New tollbooths, a supervisor building and holding lanes for about 216 vehicles would be added. The Tank Farm pier and the Art Building would be removed.

A transit center with six bus bays would be built west of the new terminal, shoreline promenades would be located on either side, and Japanese Gulch Creek would also be “daylighted,” meaning it would be restored to an open stream.

The draft EIS is available on the project website for review. Comments can be submitted via email or mail.

An EIS is required in accordance with state and national environmental policy acts.

A final EIS is scheduled to be published in 2012.

For more information, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/ferries/mukilteoterminal/multimodal.

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Read the city’s comment letter online at www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us.

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