The Washington State Department of Transportation's plan to remake Colman Dock on the downtown waterfront as part of the viaduct replacement project would eliminate passenger ferry service, along with the downtown-to-West-Seattle water taxi, at the dock. The move, which WSDOT is reportedly making, in part, to avoid the need for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, would force King County, as well as the Port of Kingston, to move passenger ferry service elsewhere (and to do its own EIS).

King County currently leases two ferry slips from Washington State ferries to run passenger-only ferries to Vashon Island and West Seattle. The state's car ferries, which are considerably slower than the passenger-only ferries now operated by King County, would be unaffected by the dock renovation.

King County considers WSDOT's "solution"  less than ideal for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is that Colman Dock is ideally situated to give ferry passengers access to King Street Station and the downtown transit tunnel, which links transit riders to the airport, the U District, and Lake City, not to mention the greatest concentration of jobs in the city.

In comparison, alternative sites are far from ideal. Argosy Cruises, which runs private boat tours around the Seattle area, has a long-term lease on the two piers closest to Colman Dock, meaning that King County would have to negotiate with the company to use those facilities---if Argosy wanted to negotiate at all. Further north, the piers near the Sculpture Garden in north Belltown are far away from the city's employment center and would force ferry riders to walk up a large hill to get to transit.

Additionally, the West Seattle Water Taxi is critical to the state's plans to mitigate traffic congestion during construction of the downtown tunnel.

King County Council member Joe McDermott, who represents West Seattle, reportedly plans to send a letter to WSDOT's ferry division in the next few days opposing the transportation agency's move.

WSDOT will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed changes at Colman Dock this Thursday at 3:30 pm in downtown Seattle.

We have calls out to McDermott, as well as city and state transportation officials, to find out more about the renovation proposal.

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