Last week, I attended one of WSF’s community meetings on the new Fauntleroy Ferry dock. Now is the time to let them know if you care about what we end up with.
There are now three alternatives for the new dock — the others have been eliminated. Under alternative A, the new dock would be the same size as the current one. This alternative includes several options that could slightly reduce the daily backup on Fauntleroy Way. These range from fairly unlikely — such as incorporating an offsite holding area — to approaches that should probably happen anyway, including implementing “good-to-to” automatic tolling systems.
Alternative B would expand the dock to hold 124 vehicles, enough to fill one Issaquah class ferry.
With room for 186 vehicles, alternative C would meet WSF’s “one and one-half boatload” requirement.
Alternatives A and B meet this requirement by continuing to “hold” cars on Fauntleroy Way. No alternative exceeding the 186 vehicle requirement appears to have ever been considered. By way of comparison, the recently replaced Mukilteo Dock holds 220 vehicles, and the soon-to-be-completed Colman Dock will hold 500 vehicles.
WSF mentioned three issues with Alternative C, the largest option: increased cost, environmental impacts, and complications related to the Barton Pump Station directly north of the dock. I do not believe any of these prevent the construction of Alternative C or an even larger dock.
It’s no secret that large infrastructure projects usually cost more than the original estimate. While cost needs to be considered, I don’t think it’s a reason to eliminate alternatives at this point.
Infrastructure projects are required to mitigate environmental impacts, and there is no reason that a project such as this can’t result in an improvement to the environment. In addition to standard mitigation, air pollution will be decreased by replacing the daily traffic jam on Fauntleroy Way with more vehicles parked on the dock.
Issues related to the Barton Pump Station are based on the assumption that the new dock will be twice as wide under Alternative C. Could the dock be widened to the south, could it be longer instead of wider, or could it be narrow near the shore and become wider further out? While there may be reasons these possibilities are not feasible, they were not discussed.
WSF was also asked if a signal or roundabout would be installed at the entrance and seemed to be interested in doing this if Seattle would allow it. I find it hard to believe that the city would not, given the significant safety and traffic congestion issues at the dock. An occasional off-duty police officer does little to solve the problem.
Now is the time to let WSF know what you’d like to see out here. Once the dock is replaced all of us will have to deal with the final product for decades to come. This includes local residents, ferry users, and everyone who drives, bikes or walks past the dock. Look at the alternatives and comment at engage.wsdot.wa.gov/fauntleroy-terminal.
The deadline is Monday, June 13.
Henry Perrin lives on Vashon and is a former West Seattle resident. He is a civil engineer who works for King County and was the project manager for the replacement of the Water Taxi terminal in downtown Seattle.