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Would the big new Seattle ferry terminal evict its water taxis?

By Mike Lindbom
Seattle Times
Seattle Times covers the story we broke on our blog about the new Colman Dock replacing the passenger only ferry service.

Washington State Ferries is proposing a new Colman Dock layout that displaces the small water taxis that sail to Vashon Island, West Seattle and Kingston.

The $210 million, five-year rebuild on the Seattle waterfront -- to replace rotting wood piers and resist earthquakes by mid-2020 -- would shift car-holding space to the south end of the dock, where foot ferries stop now.

King County Councilman Joe McDermott, chair of the county's ferry district, said ridership is growing, and that finding another site will be tough, when the Highway 99 tunnel project spurs waterfront parks and redevelopment. And the best transit connections are at Colman, he said. "I'm not looking for anything for free, but it makes sense to co-locate at the ferry dock," he said. Meanwhile, plans are underway to launch a new route to Port Townsend.

Ferries Director David Moseley said the design won't be done until mid-2013. If foot-ferry operators can contribute a few million dollars to be at Colman, he's willing to chat.

The plan has been greeted with some alarm by Publicola, West Seattle Blog and the Transportation Choices Coalition A Seattle Transit Blog reader suggests moving Colman Dock to Sodo, instead of emptying cars downtown.

The huge car-ferries haul far more transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians than water taxis. Of the 8.5 million passengers using Colman Dock from Bainbridge and Bremerton last year, 4.2 million walked aboard. And in afternoon commutes, non-drivers outnumber drivers 2-to-1. Though ferries are a branch of the state highway system, Moseley called Colman Dock itself a "transit center" whose rebuild must be downtown, where the people are.

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