MUKILTEO — With walls up, windows in place and a roof overhead, the new Washington State Ferries terminal here is beginning to take shape.
Expected to open this fall, the $187 million facility will replace the existing terminal and dock a third of a mile down the road that, built in 1957, is vulnerable in an earthquake.
In addition to adhering to modern building standards, the new terminal will be larger at 30 feet wide and 100 feet long, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and safer and more efficient. Walk-on passengers will be separated from vehicles and both can board at the same time, speeding the boarding process.
It’s unlikely that sailing schedules will be adjusted much based on faster loading times, though David Sowers, deputy program administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), said “we’re certainly going to look at that.”
The new terminal is a little farther east, making the crossing distance slightly longer, and eventually, WSDOT plans to electrify its ferry fleet.
“We’ll need some dwell time to get the boats charged. This gives us a little bit more time to make the crossing and keep on schedule,” Sowers said.
Bus stops for Everett Transit and Community Transit will be adjusted to connect passengers to ferry service. Walkway crossings are also being built for riders transferring between Sound Transit Sounder trains, which run behind the new terminal.
There will be 246 spaces for vehicles waiting to enter a ferry, and a bike path into the terminal dock.
Walk-on passengers will climb a series of staircases or take one of three elevators up to the loading dock.
The ferry terminal is also being built to accommodate future growth. More than 4 million walk-on and vehicle passengers boarded the Mukilteo-Clinton route last year, making it the second busiest state ferry route, behind the Seattle-Bainbridge Island crossing.
WSDOT projects a nearly 20% increase in walk-on and vehicle passengers in the next 20 years.
Once the facility opens this fall, crews will take another six to nine months to tear down the old terminal, rebuild connections to Highway 525 and replace the old fishing pier, along with other work.
The land where the existing terminal sits will be turned over to the city of Mukilteo and converted into a park, Sowers said.
Now that the shell of the building is complete, workers will move into the next phase, which involves finishing the floors, installing fiber optics and electronics, putting in turnstiles and hanging tribal art.
The site has long been historically significant to the Coast Salish tribes. The architecture and interior of the structure was built to feature those elements, said Charlie Torres, the design manager for the project.
Three Native artists from the Tulalip and Suquamish tribes were hired to create artwork. A canoe will be suspended inside the terminal. Stained-glass portraits of a male and female elder surrounded by the marine world will hang on posts outside to welcome passengers to Mukilteo.
The roof is covered in solar panels, and instead of air conditioning, there will be large, slow-turning fans to provide circulation.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that 246 parking stalls will be available at the new Mukilteo ferry terminal. In fact, there will be 246 vehicle-holding spaces for drivers entering the ferry.