On the City Council’s agenda for Tuesday there are the first signs that the seaplane lagoon ferry terminal is on its way to actually getting off the ground. Staff is recommending that the City Council approve an MOU between the City and WETA (Water Emergency Transportation Authority) to collaborate on funding and planning the terminal and adopt an addendum to the EIR.
Given that the ferry ridership has been growing at a steady clip, there is a need for more capacity in general. The new terminal will provide, at first, commute hour services only, but expand if necessary. The location is placed a little differently than renderings that we’ve seen in the past for the precise plan, but according to the staff report, and studies on commuting behavior, the location closer to the Enterprise District — which is where the jobs will supposedly be located eventually — is superior because people will walk further from their homes to get to public transportation, but like a shorter walking commute to their place of work.
Here are the improvements from the staff report:
While the ferry terminal is located south of the Site A property, APP will construct the ferry terminal based on WETA standards as part of the Phase 1 Site A development and provide interim landside improvements as described below. As Site B is developed over time, permanent landside improvements will be phased in according to the Town Center and Waterfront Plan.
• Waterside Improvements (Exhibit B of Exhibit 1 – Ferry Terminal Plan)
o Abutment and pier at entrance to terminal to provide secure entry from land to the pedestrian gangway.
o A gangway will connect the pier to the boarding float; the length of the gangway will be determined by tides and accessibility needs at this location.
o A boarding float for entering and exiting the ferry vessel, which will be held in position by an arrangement of pipe guide piles and fender piles.
o Design of all waterside improvements will take into account sea-level rise projections and will be reviewed by appropriate agencies.
• Landside Improvements and Circulation (Exhibit C – Q – Ferry Terminal Plan) – Improvements and circulation elements will be phased in as Site A Phase I and Phase II development is constructed and ultimately builtout over the development horizon for Site B as envisioned in the Town Center and Waterfront Plan. The proposed interim improvements will not limit or interfere with the Site B development and the ability to attract jobs to the site. These interim improvements include:
o Shoreline repairs or modifications, if necessary, where abutment ties into shoreline
o Parking facilities for 400 vehicles at a temporary location
o Passenger drop-off and pick-up
o Public access path connecting Site A to the terminal
o New bike access routes and bike parking
o Bus stop for drop-off and pick-up at the entrance to the ferry plaza
Alameda Point Partners (APP) will advance $350K to the City to pay for the initial design work. Here is the timeline, which aligns with attempting to get the ferry in operation prior to new residents moving in:
Upon receipt of the necessary permits, construction at the earliest is anticipated to begin in summer 2018 with completion of the ferry terminal in the first quarter of 2019, to align with the completion of Site A development and the first residents living there. If for any reason, construction cannot be completed in the 2018 June-November construction window allowed, it would be done in Q3/4 2019.
Naturally the amount that was committed by APP will not be sufficient to pay for the entire cost of the ferry terminal, so other grants and/or funding sources will need to be found.
But even with the funding not completely secured, it’s still an exciting first step in the process. Given that commute hours are of concern to most people increased ferry services that allow people to not drive over bridges or tunnels is helpful. Plus, from what I understand from ferry commuters, it’s a really nice way to get to and from work. Also, given some of the recent issues with BART, for Alameda residents that work in San Francisco or the Oyster Point area may find that the ferry is their best alternative for a reliable ride to work.