Excitement, wonder, relief. That was the mood of West Seattle and Vashon Island Water Taxi passengers on Monday, Aug. 12, who had their first look at the new passenger-only ferry terminal at Pier 50. After a week-long closure and lack of Water Taxi service, passengers disembarked and walked through the new facility.
Marine Division staff stood near the gangway and encouraged passengers to walk through the facility and take a look around. Free coffee and cookies were offered, and marketing staff and interns handed out squishy boats and updated social media with smiling faces of commuters happy to have the Water Taxi back and a new facility to keep them out of the elements.
Among the first-day passengers was King County Executive Dow Constantine, who spoke to members of the press and public after disembarking from the MV Doc Maynard. Joined by Bainbridge Island Mayor and Kitsap Transit Board Chair Kol Medina, Executive Constantine spoke about the new terminal and King County’s commitment to expand passenger-only ferry service throughout the region.
The new terminal at Pier 50 is fully covered and has capacity for about 500 people, keeping waiting passengers out of the sun, rain, or other weather. Garage door-style windows allow a cool breeze to blow through on muggy days or can be closed to keep out rain or snow in the winter months.
Queuing in line is easier than ever. New stanchions separate each lane and were designed by a local artist to simulate timber piles commonly associated with docks. The stanchions are linked together by blue rope, similar in design to those used to tie boats to docks. Several monitor displays hang from the ceiling, indicating the appropriate lane to stand in depending on which route passengers are taking.
Improvements include tactile paths and signs for the visually impaired, an ADA assistance station, and an elevator to the elevated shared walkway that connects the new facility with the Washington State Ferries terminal (to be opened later this summer).
As a King County facility, it was important the new terminal be a “green building.” Pier 50 goes above and beyond, earning a “platinum” certification under the King County Green Building Program. Environmental work on the project included capping contaminated sediments, extensive monitoring to minimize impact to marine mammals, and removing over 7,000 tons of creosote-treated timber piles.
If you have not come down to take a trip on the Water Taxi in a while, pop in and take a look around. We promise you will like what you see.