Can you say, “Finally”! If you travel to Seattle by ferry – as many of us do on the island – you have no doubt followed the progress of the Colman Dock reconstruction project, which has been underway since 2017.
It’s time to clap your hands together and let out a big shout – Yahoo! – because the development that has inconvenienced many of us for going on six years now, is close to completion.
The other day, the new building that fronts Alaskan Way, serving as a sort of portal to the elevated plaza and the main terminal building for passengers bound for Bremerton and Bainbridge Island sailings, opened its doors. Passengers can now enter the complex via stairs or elevators off Alaskan Way, and soon, a rebuilt pedestrian connection along Marion Street will offer another link to the space. Eventually, the long, temporary walkway that passengers have used to enter and exit the terminal building in recent years will be removed.
Meantime, our own Bainbridge ferry terminal is still undergoing a significant overhaul. The route between Seattle and the island is the busiest in the system for walk-on passengers, and the $33 million project – set to be completed early next year – replaces the existing overhead wooden walkway with a wider, safer concrete and steel facility built to current seismic code.
Next week, however, part of that project will inconvenience walk-on passengers. From Aug. 14-Aug. 17, the existing overhead wooden structure will be closed, and walk-ons will enter and exit ferries via the boat’s car deck – just like Michael Douglas’ character did years ago in the movie Disclosure, if you remember that one.
Back in Seattle, riders and drivers have watched the new terminal structure go up before their very own eyes, albeit in a somewhat glacier-like pace at times. To their credit, Washington State Ferries has maintained ferry service throughout the $467 million Seattle Multimodal Terminal at Colman Dock Project.
Built in stages as the old terminal building was torn down, the new building improves safety by meeting current seismic standards and improves passenger circulation and queuing. In addition to striking views of Elliott Bay, here’s what passengers can expect with the completed terminal building:
- More than 20,000 square feet of passenger space, providing room for 1,900 ferry riders.
- Twelve turnstiles for each route including six that are ADA-accessible.
- Seating capacity of 362 seats—triple the amount of the old terminal building.
- Restroom capacity will double from the existing one-third of the building.
- Ticket purchasing is still available online, at the ticket booth on the temporary walkway and at kiosks inside the terminal building.
- Elevator access is near the passenger only ferry terminal, as it currently is.
The Colman Dock multimodal project includes numerous transportation connections nearby, including an elevated pedestrian connection, regional bicycle path, King County Metro buses on Alaskan Way, fast ferries for King County and Kitsap Transit, and Sound Transit’s light rail stations just blocks away on Third Avenue.
- As previously mentioned, a new entry building along Alaskan Way and the elevated pedestrian connector into the terminal building.
- Additional elevator access from Alaskan Way, with additional passenger drop-off and pick-up in front of the new terminal building.
- Seamless access to the ferry terminal above ground. Passengers will be able to reach ferries without stairs or elevators from downtown Seattle by taking the elevated walkway above Marion Street, going through the entry building, crossing the elevated connector, and arriving at the terminal building.
In addition, there will be a total of 10 food and retail vendor locations in the terminal building and in the rest of the project. These will be available once the project is complete and vendor buildouts are finished.
If you recall, crews began construction work in 2017 to replace the seismically vulnerable terminal at Colman Dock. Since that time, the project has:
- Built a new passenger-only ferry terminal on the south side of Colman Dock for the King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit Passenger Only Ferry boats. (Aug. 2019)
- Built an elevated walkway between the terminal building and the passenger-only ferry facility. (Sept. 2019)
- Completed a new overhead loading passenger structure for slip 3 on the north end of the terminal. (Sept. 2019)
- Replaced the timber trestle portion of the dock with a new concrete and steel trestle for vehicle staging and loading/unloading. (Aug. 2021).
One item from yesteryear that is set to be put back in place is the historic Colman Clock that used to sit inside the old terminal building by the turnstiles and was placed in storage during the renovations. It will soon return and be placed inside the main terminal building, according to authorities, reestablishing its past glory!
Sources: WSF, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the largest ferry system in the U.S., the Kitsap Sun (www.kitsapsun.com), and our own reporting. Images courtesy of WSDOT.
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