Traffic issues arise around new ferry terminal
More signs on the way, Washington State Ferries says
Last updated 1/20/2021 at 11:03am
By most accounts, the new Mukilteo ferry terminal is a hit with residents and commuters.
The new passenger terminal with tribal influences and art has been described as beautiful and unlike any of the state's other terminals.
But that doesn't mean there haven't been some snags in the opening of the state's first new ferry terminal in 40 years.
Washington State Ferries spokesperson Diane Rhodes acknowledged some kinks since the grand opening in late December.
Drivers currently access the new terminal, located a third of a mile east of the old terminal, through a temporary road off of SR-525. A new road eventually will be built through to SR-525 once all the old toll booths and other structures are removed from the former holding lanes area.
For some drivers, getting to the new terminal isn't quite as straightforward as the old terminal.
"The temporary road is a little confusing because it's new," Rhodes said. "It doesn't have the look of a finished road."
The new road is expected to be completed in about three months. A new stoplight at the intersection between the new road and SR-525 also should be operational by the time the new road opens.
As a result of feedback from residents, commuters and the city, Rhodes said that Washington State Ferries plans to add more signs in the area to help people get to and from the new terminal. The signs have been ordered and should be installed as soon as they arrive, which could be a couple of weeks.
"They'll be lane-marking signage," she said. "We can't install traffic lights because it's a temporary situation."
At the intersection of the temporary road and the Mukilteo Speedway, drivers on the speedway run into a stop sign and a message indicating that (ferry) cross traffic does not stop.
"We have flaggers during peak traffic hours," Rhodes said. "That's been a huge help."
Depending on what time drivers are on the Mukilteo Speedway, they may encounter delays either getting to or leaving the waterfront.
Once the ferry docks in Mukilteo, vehicles are unloaded and head to SR-525 via the temporary road. Some residents report waiting more than 10 minutes on Mukilteo
Speedway while the ferry is unloaded.
Rhodes said that was the plan – that ferry traffic would have priority – but she added that often there are natural breaks in the traffic that allow traffic on Mukilteo Speedway to proceed.
After the center portion of the boat is unloaded, it often takes a while for the sides to unload. By allowing the vehicles to continuously unload, the ferry is able to maintain its schedule, Rhodes noted.
She added that once the permanent road is completed, WSF hopes the local traffic issues will be alleviated.
Elevators not working yet
The elevators in the new terminal are not working yet. Rhodes said that some extra safety features required by the state's Department of Labor and Industries have delayed their opening.
Those passengers unable to climb the stairs may purchase a ticket on the ground level at a kiosk, and an attendant will direct them where to go. Foot passengers are still boarding the ferry through the car deck due to delays in the overhead walkway. Rhodes expects the walkway to open next month.
WSF remains in constant contact with city officials about traffic flow and other issues, Rhodes said.
"We knew when we first opened that we wouldn't have everything perfect," she said. "We will make changes as needed."
The new terminal currently does not have a food vendor. This spring WSF plans to request bids from potential vendors for a food cart or kiosk, which will be located in a dedicated space near the holding lanes.
Visitors to the waterfront have noticed a crane in the water at the site of the old terminal. WSF contractor Mason Construction is removing the old ferry docking structure. The old fishing pier also is being removed. Because of the upcoming fishing window, Mason Construction will be completing the work by mid-February.