Brief closure to precede new Mukilteo ferry terminal opening

— Created December 23, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Folks used to traveling on the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry route should prepare for a brief pause in service next week in advance of the opening of the new Mukilteo ferry terminal.

The route will shut down Monday evening after the final crossing and will remained closed most of the day Tuesday, reopening for the scheduled 5:35 p.m. departure from Clinton to the new terminal. Tollbooths at the Clinton terminal will reopen at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tollbooths will reopen at 5 p.m. in Mukilteo in advance of the 6:10 p.m. sailing from the new facility. The closure is necessary to move floating structures from the old terminal to the new one.

“We recognize this is a major disruption for some of our customers,” Amy Scarton, head of Washington State Ferries, said in a press release. “We worked to balance the need of those who rely on this route to get to work with the need to open the new terminal by scheduling the move over a holiday break, when there are usually fewer commuters.”

Those who need to travel to or from Whidbey Island during the closure can take SR 20 north over Deception Pass or use the Coupeville/Port Townsend or Kington/Edmonds ferry routes.

The new Mukilteo ferry terminal replaces the 63-year-old terminal – which had not had any major improvements since the 1980s -and failed to meet current seismic safety standards and presented several safety concerns. The new facility, located about a third of a mile east of the current site, is the first new WSF terminal in four decades.

“We’re excited to welcome ferry riders and the public to our first new terminal in 40 years,” Scarton said. “With its many green features and tribal-influenced design, it’s unlike any other in the system.”

The Clinton/Mukilteo route is WSF’s busiest vehicle route, carrying over four million riders each year.  Officially part of State Route 525, it is the major transportation corridor connecting Whidbey to the Seattle-Everett metropolitan area.

“The opening of the new ferry terminal is very exciting, and long overdue,” said Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson. “People need to plan ahead for the closure and 18 hour loss of service as the WSF system transitions away from the old dock.” 

The new terminal is located at the site of an old U.S. Air Force fueling station and restores the area to a more natural setting. A new waterfront promenade offers the chance to take in the scenic view. The project also includes a transit center and is a short walk from the Sounder train station.

The new passenger station meets current seismic safety standards. An overhead walkway, when completed, will enable walk-on passengers to load and unload directly to the passenger deck.

“The new ferry terminal will open the capacity for much better multimodal access for Whidbey Islanders and our visitors, with overhead loading, more transit bus bays, and located conveniently closer to the Sounder station,” Price Johnson noted. “Its energy efficiency and respectful acknowledgment of the tribal history of the site are also noteworthy attributes.”

The tribal history of the land did play a key role in the development of this project, as it is the site of the 1855 Point Elliot Treaty signing. The new passenger terminal is designed in the form of a Coast Salish longhouse and features a large gathering hall with views of water and land and offers comfortable space to those waiting for their ferry.

The facility was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards and is certified as environmentally efficient. Solar panels, rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation, radiant floor heating, stormwater treatment, rain gardens and other features were also incorporated into the design. Cost of the project was just over $187 million.