Hundreds of passengers at Colman Dock were delayed Friday, when a suspicious object caused a one-hour evacuation from the downtown Seattle ferry terminal.
Boat trips resumed shortly after the terminal reopened at 6 p.m.
Law enforcement officers focused on a plywood box about 30 inches tall, on a rolling dolly. It was padlocked and appears to be a tool container, said a ferry rider who witnessed the first response.
The terminal is undergoing a $350 million rebuild, to improve seismic resilience and traffic flow, so contractor equipment is often kept at street level.
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But this box looked suspicious to a ferry worker and state troopers because of its odd location — on the upper level next to shops and a cafe, said Trooper Kevin Fortino, a spokesman for homeland-security patrols.
“With no obvious owner claiming it, or knowing anything about it, that led to the investigation,” Fortino said.
Seattle police brought a robot, which approached the box and determined it wasn’t dangerous, he said.
State ferries that were held in Puget Sound, or at Bainbridge Island, resumed service. Some customers — including Seattle Mariners baseball fans — were delayed as long as two hours before leaving the western shore toward Seattle. Ferry crews will work at normal frequency and try to catch up with the schedules, Sterling said.
Kitsap Transit has cancelled Friday evening’s fast-ferry passenger boat, while King County Water Taxi restarted its sailings to Vashon Island and West Seattle around 6:25 p.m.
Pedestrians and traffic were stopped under the Alaskan Way Viaduct at Yesler Way, according to a photo by David Cole, an architect who works nearby.
“It’s definitely not a panic,” said Jesse Nichols, who was diverted off a passenger-loading walkway and missed his 4:45 p.m. boat to Bainbridge. “Maybe everybody seems a little annoyed.” Nichols said he would wait out the delay by meeting co-workers for a beer in a pub.
State troopers and bomb-sniffing dogs routinely check arriving ferry traffic, part of beefed-up security since the New York City terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Troopers will continue to investigate who left the wood box behind Friday afternoon and why, Fortino said.
Last Dec. 26, law-enforcement agencies closed the dock for 35 minutes because of an unmarked package — that turned out to be a holiday fruitcake somebody abandoned beneath a WSF-installed Christmas tree.