Work began Tuesday on a five-year renovation of Colman Dock in Seattle. The project will mean less terminal space and changed sailing times during construction, but no reduction in service.
Construction began Tuesday on Washington State Ferries’ five-year, $350 million renovation of Colman Dock in Seattle, a project that will reroute traffic and reschedule sailings but will not result in less ferry service during construction.
The one change to service will be to the King County Water Taxi, which connects downtown Seattle to West Seattle and Vashon Island. The water taxi will shut downMonday and remain closed for “up to a week,” a spokesman said, until a temporary dock is completed.
Work on that dock — which will serve the water taxi and Kitsap Transit’s Fast Ferry, also a passenger-only ferry — began Tuesday. Crews on a barge used a crane equipped with a vibration hammer to drive 100-foot steel piles into the Puget Sound floor. They hope to have the temporary passenger-only ferry dock complete by Aug. 14.
In the interim, beginning Aug. 7, the Kitsap ferry will dock at Pier 54, two blocks north of Colman Dock. For that week, some afternoon sailings on the Fast Ferry will depart as much as 45 minutes later than usual, as the ferries have to share dock space with Argosy Cruises.
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Once the temporary dock is complete, the water taxi and the Fast Ferry will use it until fall 2018, when a permanent indoor, passenger-only ferry facility is expected to open.
The multiphase renovation of Colman Dock is needed to replace aging timber trestles and to reduce the facility’s vulnerability in case of an earthquake.
The section of the dock being replaced has not been significantly changed since 1938. During the project, crews will replace about 2,000 wood trestles, in various states of deterioration, with 500 steel and concrete ones.
The project will eventually result in not only a new dock, but a new terminal building, the new passenger-only ferry building and an elevated walkway connecting the two.
“Nine million people pass through Colman Dock every year,” said Broch Bender, a Washington State Ferries spokesperson. “We have a challenging project ahead of us to replace the aging, seismically vulnerable facility. It’s a challenge, but we are going to keep the facility open during construction with the same number of sailings.”
While a terminal building will remain open throughout construction, beginning in 2018 it will be significantly smaller.
In March, about half the current terminal will be demolished, while the other half will remain, temporarily, operational. In 2019, part of the new terminal will open, but it will be less than half of its eventual size.
As a result, ferry schedules will be shifted, beginning in January, to ensure that only one ferry (and only one set of ferry passengers) is at Colman Dock at the same time.
Washington State Ferries has yet to finalize the schedule shifts, but envisions schedule changes for about 15 sailings, on the Bremerton and Bainbridge Island routes. Generally, those changes will result in current afternoon and evening Bremerton sailings leaving five to 15 minutes earlier than they do now, and a similar number of Bainbridge Island sailings leaving five to 15 minutes later than they do now.
Earlier this summer, lanes of Alaskan Way were repurposed for ferry access, to accommodate the loss of vehicle holding space on the south side of the dock.
The $350 million project is funded with state and federal money, with King County also contributing money for the passenger-only facility.
Construction times are limited by environmental concerns. No underwater work can be done between Feb. 15 and Aug. 1, to protect migrating salmon. Impact pile driving, to drive the new trestles into the ground, can also kill marine life so crews will use a bubble curtain, essentially a dynamic wall of air bubbles, to help contain the noise and vibration.