Port Townsend City Council concerned about ferry proposal

PORT TOWNSEND — The City Council will consider drafting a position letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire and Democratic Rep. Lynn Kessler, expressing concerns about traffic on Sims Way resulting from Washington State Ferries’ proposed $36 million Port Townsend terminal expansion proposal.

“I just feel our community is not being listened to,” said City Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval during Monday night’s council meeting.

“I really feel like this is an unfunded mandate because literally all these (traffic) problems are hitting the streets.”

Sandoval added that she was getting the impression that “people are very upset” about the ferry terminal proposal that would extend the dock 180 feet to increase parking by 70 additional holding spaces.

Still in discussion

Sandoval and council members Geoff Masci and Scott Walker attended a forum at Fort Worden State Park’s Chapel in which an initial checklist of traffic improvements was discussed as mitigation for the ferry terminal expansion.

Improvements included adding a toll booth and straightening the exit lanes out of the ferry terminal.

Masci urged weekly meetings to discuss ferry terminal updates.

Sandoval, who co-owns a real estate business across Water Street from the terminal entrance, said she planned to discuss her concerns with Gregoire.

One remaining uncertainty is what size ferry vessels will be built for the Port Townsend-Keystone run: 65-car, 100-car or 124 to 144 cars.

The new ferries would replace the nearly 80-year-old Steel Electric vessels that are the oldest in the nation.

Ridership on the Keystone-Port Townsend route was nearly 800,000 in 2004, said ferry officials, who are planning for 67 percent growth in total projected long-range ferry ridership to Port Townsend during afternoons only.

City Manager David Timmons said he and other city officials expected to meet again with state ferries officials to discuss terminal expansion issues and report back to the council.

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