Washington State Ferries staff left Edmonds Wednesday night secure in the knowledge that city officials aren’t interested in absorbing the additional ferry traffic from Clinton ferry run.
Mayor Mike Cooper and Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton both delivered that message loud and clear during a public meeting the ferry system held in the Edmonds City Council Chambers Wednesday to receive feedback on the idea of relocating the Clinton ferry run from Mukilteo to Edmonds.
Cooper said that while he is a long-time friend of Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine, “the City of Edmonds is not interested in taking his two-and-a-half-million cars into our city,” a reference to the annual vehicle traffic generated by the Clinton-Mukilteo run, which is the second-largest in the ferry system.
Washington State Ferries announced a few weeks ago it was looking at options for upgrading or replacing the Mukilteo ferry terminal with one that provides better access to train and bus connections, and that one possibility is moving the terminal from Mukilteo to either Everett or Edmonds. Public meetings were held last week on Whidbey Island and in Mukilteo, but due to intense citizen interest, ferry officials scheduled two more meetings for this week, in Edmonds and Everett.
Ferry staff started the meeting Wednesday by asking the audience of about 30 for a show of hands of those who were opposed to the idea of moving the Clinton ferry traffic to Edmonds, and nearly all of those in attendance lifted their arms.
Washington State Ferries is considering nine concepts for replacing the aging Mukilteo ferry terminal, which includes seismic safety improvements to the dock and roadway improvements for better access through the downtown area to the ferry, officials said. Six of those concepts are in Mukilteo, two are in Edmonds and one is in Everett. The ferry system is also including a “no-build option” in Mukilteo that would provide a new ferry slip, passenger building and toll booths, but no other road improvements.
The reason for looking outside of Mukilteo? The current location is a “significant cultural site” for Native American tribes and the ferry system needed to “broaden the concept to ensure we have a reasonable range of alternatives,” said meeting facilitator Jamie Strausz-Clark.
Complete maps and descriptions of all nine proposals are available on the Washington State Ferries website, but here’s a brief description of the three Edmonds concepts:
“Edmonds Existing Concept” — involves relocating Mukilteo ferry service to the existing Edmonds ferry terminal with no terminal improvements.
“Edmonds -Existing Site Improvements Concept” — replaces, widens and extends ferry trestle; adds two new transfer spans and overhead passenger loading via pedestrian bridges; expands number of toll booths from three to five; adds a vehicle holding area for a total of 519 vehicles and provides for future expansion of bus bays. Installing the huge concrete strip in the current antique mall space location would remove a large piece of revenue-generating property from the city tax rolls, and raises other aesthetic and economic concerns, the Mayor said, adding: “We are simply just not interested in a parking lot on our waterfront. This proposal would also result in the closing of Main Street west of Sunset Avenue to local traffic, a move which further isolates the waterfront from the downtown core and poses a significant problem for emergency vehicles attempting to access the Underwater Dive Park during rescues or other emergencies, Cooper noted.
“Edmonds Point Edwards Concept” — relocates the ferry terminal to Point Edwards, located two-thirds of a mile south of the existing Edmonds terminal. This concept is essentially a modified version of the Edmonds Crossing project, which was put on hold because of state budget challenges. It includes new overhead passenger loading and passenger and maintenance buildings, three transfer spans, a new signalized intersection and terminal access road, six toll booth, a holding area for 519 vehicles and eight bus bays.
In their comments, both Cooper and Clifton included a long list of potential impacts from the increased ferry and vehicle traffic that the 17 new Edmonds-Clinton ferry runs per day would bring. Additional congestion on Highway 104, air and water pollution, view interruptions and environmental lighting were just a few of the items mentioned.
“We respectfully ask that the ferry system discontinue any further study” of the Clinton run relocation to Edmonds, Cooper said.
Also offering public comment during the meeting was State Rep. Marko Liias (D-21st District), himself an Edmonds resident, who said he was opposed to moving the Mukilteo ferry to Edmonds.
Ferry system representatives said that they will come back to the public with initial recommendations based on the following factors: safety and security, transportation operations and environmental effects, and will also incorporate public comment into their decision-making process. After additional comment, Washington State Ferries will prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement in spring 2011, conduct draft EIS public hearings in fall 2011 and issue a final EIS in fall 2012, with a final decision expected the following winter.
The public has until Nov. 19 to submit their comments online or via U.S. Mail. To do that, visit the Mukilteo Multimodal Project website here.