Washington State Ferries Vessels & Terminals - Terminal improvements

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Terminal improvements

Performance analysis


WSF opens its flagship terminal in Seattle in November 2022

WSF opened the Seattle Terminal building at Colman Dock on Nov. 18, 2022—a milestone for the Colman Dock project.

The new terminal building includes increased seating, more turnstiles to accommodate larger volumes of walk-on passengers, and several spaces for future retail. The terminal building is also lined with many windows and glass panels to provide a more welcoming and brighter atmosphere.

Construction work is still underway on the entry building along Alaskan Way and the elevated pedestrian walkway that links to the terminal building. Those key elements are expected to open in spring 2023.

Interior of the completed Seattle Terminal Building at Colman Dock image
Interior of the completed Seattle Terminal Building at Colman Dock.

WSF continues terminal work at Bainbridge and Anacortes

WSF began construction at the Bainbridge terminal on the passenger overhead loading fixed walkway in 2022. The modern steel structure that replaces the wooden supported walkway is earthquake resistant and functionally more efficient. Mechanical and electrical systems will also be replaced to improve system reliability.

The Anacortes tollbooth replacement project is currently in the construction phase and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The project will replace the existing tollbooths (built in 1984), install a canopy over the new tollbooths, and meet current design standards and ADA requirements.

WSF continues to focus on resilience

WSF plans to reevaluate risks and reexamine the risk response plan in the coming year. This is in alignment with the agency's goal of building resilience to uncertain and/or unforeseen events. Identified below are some areas of focus:

  • Loss of workforce capacity and skill levels has been rated very high in WSF risk evaluations. WSF is enacting mitigation strategies such as nationwide recruitment, workforce development, flexible schedules, and training.
  • The seismic risk to WSF terminal systems is high. WSF continues to identify critical routes for seismic resiliency and includes seismic risk while prioritizing capital projects. WSF's 10-year budget includes several preservation projects that upgrade terminal structures to the latest seismic code. WSF also considers tsunami effects in new designs to ensure it is building structures that are more resilient to potential tsunamis after an earthquake.
  • In response to the changing climate worldwide, WSF is conducting a study on how climate change and sea-level rise will affect existing terminal structures. New preservation projects will also consider those impacts to design a more resilient system that can perform as designed during its lifetime.


WSF works on terminal improvements in FY2021

A project at Fauntleroy terminal will address the deteriorating timber trestle constructed in the 1950s, sea-level rise, operational inefficiencies, and the seismic condition of the structure. The project is in the early stages of the environmental process. Community, technical, and executive advisory groups have each met at least once and provided input on this project.

Projects at the Anacortes terminal include replacing the aging terminal building, the tollbooths, and the timber trestles. At the Orcas Island and Tahlequah terminals, the projects include preserving the trestles in addition to rehabilitation of some of the vehicle movable bridge systems. Other major terminal projects WSF has programmed within the 10-year time frame include:

  • A preservation project in Kingston to address seismic deficiencies of the trestle and vehicle movable bridge.
  • A preservation project in Bremerton to replace aging vehicle movable bridge systems.
  • A preservation project in Southworth to replace the timber trestle and terminal building and improve operational efficiency.
  • A project at the Bainbridge Island terminal to replace an overhead loading walkway is scheduled for construction this year. The existing wooden-supported walkway will be replaced with a modern walkway designed to better withstand earthquakes.
  • A project at Colman Dock in Seattle to replace aging and seismically-vulnerable assets is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2023.

WSF terminals continue to face challenges due to COVID-19

WSF terminals continue experiencing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • WSF terminal project construction costs have increased significantly. The cost of all goods has increased due to lack of construction material availability. These cost increases without an increase in funding will result in less preservation projects moving into the construction phase.
  • COVID-19 has impacted work force capacity. The vaccine mandate resulted in a small number of resignations, but they have impacted the staff's ability to respond to problems quickly in some departments at WSF.
  • Delays in design delivery and construction, and change orders associated with mandatory state requirements.


WSF updates existing risks and challenges for terminals

As part of a risk management process, WSF identified enterprise- and program-level risks, analyzed and qualitatively evaluated the impact of those risks, and developed a risk response plan. Recent updates to the results of this risk evaluation process include:

  • The seismic risk to WSF terminal systems is high. WSF is continuing to identify critical routes for seismic resiliency, and includes seismic risk in its prioritization of capital projects. WSF's 16-year budget includes several preservation projects that would also upgrade terminal structures to the latest seismic code.
  • WSF is continuing to develop a training plan for crews to learn to operate movable loading/unloading bridges as well as a refresher training plan to avoid operator errors. WSF needs additional training resources to fully execute this response plan.
  • WSF is in the process of developing and implementing collision prevention training plans for vessel crews, improving vessel operations to reduce propeller wash and continuing with federally-required scour inspections. WSF anticipates a need for additional training resources to fully execute the response plan.
  • WSF is beginning to incorporate climate change effects in the design of new capital projects. State revenue reductions have resulted in a delay in the agency's efforts to study the effects of climate change on terminal facilities. The goal is to quantify the cost of climate change and associated risk on all terminal assets and incorporate the results into design standards.


WSF adds new weight limits to terminal timber trestles

FHWA directed all states to analyze load ratings for Special Hauling Vehicles. SHVs are closely-spaced, multi-axle, single-unit trucks (such as dump trucks, construction vehicles, solid waste trucks, and other hauling trucks) introduced by the trucking industry in the last decade. With the new load ratings for SHVs, some bridges now require load postings. Timber trestles at the terminals are the controlling elements causing the load postings. Consequentially, all routes to and from these terminals have truck load postings:

  • San Juan Islands
  • Edmonds/Kingston
  • Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth
  • Point Defiance/Tahlequah

It is not possible to lift the postings along these routes without making significant upgrades to the timber trestles. The timber trestles at Anacortes, Southworth, and Edmonds terminals are aging and WSF plans to replace them within the next decade. Major seismic upgrades were performed on the Vashon Island timber trestle in 2016.


WSF completes its draft long range plan for 2040

WSF has completed the initial draft of its 2040 Long Range Plan. It was provided to the public from September 10 through October 25, 2018, to offer stakeholders the opportunity to give feedback. WSF's ridership is expected to grow by 30% between 2017 and 2040, which will further increase demand for service from an aging fleet and infrastructure. Highlights for improving service at terminals include:

  • Plan for reliable terminal infrastructure. Continue to enhance the asset management model to prioritize projects that increase reliability and resiliency.
  • Monitor terminal maintenance trends through 2040. Perform ongoing evaluation of methods to reduce paint maintenance costs, such as models to help plan and estimate when to repaint assets;
  • Program terminal preservation projects to support reliable service. Continue to monitor for opportunities to enhance and support reliable service, and improve vehicle processing and operational efficiencies through preservation projects. Plan for critical preservation work to upgrade the Fauntleroy terminal.
  • Work with stakeholders to determine the best solutions for operational challenges at the Edmonds terminal.
  • Invest in the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility to serve system needs through 2040. Convert an existing tie-up to a drive-on slip at Eagle Harbor.

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