By NATALIE MARTIN
State funds that State Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) believed would fund a cadet to direct traffic at the Fauntleroy ferry dock ultimately went to pay for added ferry staff hours at the dock instead.
Nelson announced last spring that as part of the effort to alleviate congestion and ferry delays at Fauntleroy, she and State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) had helped secure a $71,000 state budget allocation to restore the Washington State Patrol cadet that once directed ferry traffic during peak hours.
However, Nelson said she discovered the budget mix-up after a cadet did not appear at the dock in July and a reporter from The Beachcomber recently inquired. She found there had been a miscommunication in the budget writing process. While she wasn’t sure exactly where the error happened, she said adding the cadet would have actually cost $300,000 and she believes it was an honest mistake that resulted in funds being directed to another purpose.
“It wasn’t that someone was trying to end run Rep. Fitzgibbon or me,” she said.
Instead, $71,000 went to Washington State Ferries to pay for WSF staff to direct traffic at the Fauntleroy dock.
Marta Coursey, a WSF spokeswoman, said the agency requested $71,000 to pay for a position called a splitter for 21 hours a week at Fauntleroy, another measure it believed would help relieve congestion at the dock. The splitter now works weekdays during morning and afternoon commute hours, standing on the street side of the dock and directing traffic through the ticket booths. Coursey, communicating by email, did not respond when asked if there had been a miscommunication about funding.
Nelson said she didn’t support hiring more ferry staff at the dock, but she would advocate again to restore the cadet position. The next legislative session begins in January.
“Both Rep. Fitzgibbon and I know that dock, and you need someone at the street,” she said.