WSDOT is undergoing a process to plan for the replacement of the Colman ferry terminal. We fully support preservation projects and our state’s ferry system, but the current replacement project will eliminate the existing passenger ferry dock, which will threaten the King County water taxi and other passenger ferry services in and out of Downtown Seattle. Later this week WSDOT will be holding an open house on this project. We encourage all riders and advocates of current and future passenger ferry service (also known as waterway transit) in Seattle to attend this open house and tell WSDOT not to eliminate the passenger ferry dock at Colman Dock.
Currently a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not planned for this project so WSDOT is not planning to study the consequences of eliminated the passenger ferry dock in Downtown Seattle.
Some of the irony here is that WSDOT used to use this passenger ferry dock when they ran foot ferries on the Vashon-Seattle and Bremerton-Seattle routes. Since WSDOT (and the State Legislature) rid themselves of their responsibility of running passenger ferries (and sold the boats to the Golden Gate Bridge Authority in San Francisco) King County took over the Vashon-Seattle route and added the popular West Seattle-Downtown route. The West Seattle water taxi is crucial in WSDOT’s own plans for traffic mitigation during the Viaduct construction project. In that vein, with no downtown exits in the new Viaduct tunnel, the West Seattle Water taxi’s importance to regional transportation will only continue to increase. Yet, the current Colman Dock “replacement” plan eliminates the foot ferry dock in the heart of Downtown Seattle? This action would require King County to undergo an EIS planning process to find a new passenger ferry dock, which would likely cause a suspension of service and be located in a less convenient and connected area.
One of the stated goals of the Viaduct replacement project is to open up Seattle’s waterfront and create a better transit and pedestrian connected city. The City of Seattle is currently planning the bike, pedestrian, transit, and automotive transportation aspects of Seattle’s new waterfront with a goal to make it more transit focused and pedestrian friendly. One of WSDOT’s stated goals of the Colman Dock project is to “Improve existing pedestrian connections (from Colman Dock) to local transit service.”
Existing and expanded passenger ferries are crucial to a transit connected and people focused waterfront. From New York to San Francisco, and Port Orchard to Vancouver, B.C., passenger ferries are part of the working transit system. Please attend Thursday’s open house and tell WDSOT not to eliminate a home for passenger ferries in the heart of Downtown Seattle. If you can not attend please send an email to FaulknE@wsdot.wa.gov.
Update: The Kitsap Sun did an article on this very topic yesterday. Washington State Ferry Chief David Moseley is quoted in response to the concerns over the loss of the passenger only landing:
“Those agencies that have, or hope to have, passenger-only service need to determine what is in their interest and where they believe would be the best location for their terminal,” Moseley said. “That may or may not be Colman Dock. There are a number of potential locations along the waterfront. If they would like to talk with us about space in or around Colman Dock, I have committed to them that we will be happy to have those discussions.”