A tollbooth closure at the Fauntleroy ferry dock in West Seattle could cause long lines and delays for as much as four months, ferry officials warn.
“We're expecting delays at least initially as people get into the new system,” said Marta Coursey, a spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries.
The north tollbooth at Fauntleroy will closed this week due to construction on a nearby wastewater pump station. The booth will be closed until May 15, and ferry traffic will be routed through the one remaining tollbooth.
While drivers with multi-ride passes will be allowed to bypass the tollbooth once they reach the dock entrance, Coursey said, they'll likely have to wait in longer than usual lines as the ferries operate with one less tollbooth.
To that end, WSF is urging ferry riders to allow extra time when traveling and to purchase tickets in advance, either online or at computer kiosks at the ferry terminals, eliminating the need to stop at the tollbooth.
“People really need to follow that advice. … We expect there could be longer lines if people don't purchase their tickets ahead of time,” Coursey said.
Along with long lines, Coursey said, some from Vashon's Ferry Community Partnership are concerned that cutting may increase. It's possible, Coursey said, that some drivers with mult-ride passes may think they can drive to the front of the line instead of waiting along Fauntleroy.
“Some people will get impatient and might think they have the right to go to the splitter,” she said.
It's also possible that as the line gets long, drivers may be confused about where they should line up. Officials have said the the line should continue along Fauntleroy Way, and not down 47th Avenue, the smaller street by the gas station next to Lincoln Park.
Those who cut in line can be reported to the state Department of Transportation's HERO program. Reported violators are logged by the state and sent a warning letter, and multiple violations could result in further action.
“We can't do anything about it at the tollbooth,” Coursey said. “The only way to make a dent in line-cutting is to make sure you report it.”
The construction project directly by the dock, an upgrade of the aging Barton Pump Station, began last summer and is expected to be completed in 2015. During the tollbooth and lane closure, there will be additional flaggers on site, a WSF traffic director to split traffic at the dock entrance and a uniformed police officer to direct traffic as needed.
Ferry tickets can be purchased in advance at the Vashon or Fauntleroy terminals or online.
Drivers who cut in line can be reported to the HERO program at 877-764-HERO or online.
Comments about the Barton Pump Station project can be left at 206-296-2999, a 24-hour project hotline.