In August, Washington State Ferries rejected bids for a new Mukilteo ferry terminal near Everett, the state’s busiest ferry terminal for vehicles, due to bids exceeding available funds. Since then, WSF has split the project into two contracts, awarding the first to IMCO Construction for upland buildings, allowing work to start on the project in early 2019.

Valued at $47.9 million, the IMCO contract includes a passenger building, holding lanes, toll plaza and waterfront promenade, representing the largest part of the project to replace the existing 61-year-old seismically vulnerable terminal.

IMCO is familiar with the project and site through the firm's smaller contract to tunnel a portion of the site's stormwater system, says Nicole McIntosh, WSF director of terminal engineering. WSF is the largest ferry service in the country and a division of the Washington State Dept. Of Transportation. “IMCO has done a great job on the stormwater lines, so we’re excited to work with them to bring the new terminal to the Mukilteo waterfront."

Built one-third of a mile east of the existing terminal, the new terminal is part of an effort to reshape Mukilteo’s Puget Sound waterfront. The new terminal sits on the site of a former U.S. Air Force fueling station, which has sat unused since 1989. Earlier work removed the fueling pier. The new terminal’s location near the Sounder commuter rail station will improve transit connections and open the waterfront to pedestrians.

“This is a giant step forward for this project,” says Amy Carton, WSF head. “It is designed to improve safety for our customers and reduce congestion conflicts between people driving and walking onto the ferry.” When originally built in 1957, ridership and surrounding population numbers were a fraction of today’s figures.

When bids came back too high in August, WSF was forced to look at solutions. They settled on creating one contract for upland buildings and another for remaining marine structures. WSF expects to advertise the marine contract to bidders in early 2019.

“We want the new terminal to be a centerpiece of the community,” McIntosh says. “We’ve worked with the public, tribal partners and a range of stakeholders to get to this point. We’re excited to deliver a project that will improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles.”

Preparation work on the new terminal finished in fall 2018, including decontaminating the work site, building the preliminary in-water structure and laying the foundation of the new terminal building.

The Mukilteo/Clinton ferry route is part of State Route 525 and connects Whidbey Island to the Seattle-Everett metropolitan area, the system’s busiest route for vehicle traffic and the second-highest in annual ridership, with over four million total riders annually.

The terminal has not seen significant improvements since the early 1980s and components of the building no longer meet current seismic standards. The current layout also makes loading passengers difficult and contributes to added congestion. The new building will feature separate loading for pedestrians and bicyclists, which increases safety. The current facility will remain in operation until the new one is ready.

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb