It may the biggest, most expensive public infrastructure project you’ve heard little about. And it's about to start on the Seattle waterfront.

The $350 million Colman Dock renovation begins in earnest next month, with the partial demolition of the terminal on the south side of the existing terminal. The project is expected to last 5 ½ years.

“It's about replacing aging and seismically vulnerable parts of the dock,” said Nicole McIntosh, the terminal engineering director for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

McIntosh notes that some of the wooden pilings have been in place since the 1930s, and many more of the 2,000 or so pilings have been damaged by the “Gribbles." "Gribbles" are the crafty crustaceans that have bored through many of the pilings of the old seawall, leading to the current replacement project.

But this project is going to be a delicate dance, with numerous closures and continued service equal to what exists now.

“We’re going to maintain travel for over 9 million people,” said McIntosh, noting WSDOT will have the same number of sailings as it does today. But it means a change in service, beginning in 2018, which schedules dramatically altered on the Bainbridge and Bremerton runs.

McIntosh says it will help ease congestion and scenarios involving two boats at the dock at the same time. Some 1,500 people already cram into the terminal at peak times, according to WSDOT data.

Starting Friday June 16, the agency will begin what it hopes is a high-profile rollout of all the changes. WSDOT will create an online open house and hold several in-person events over the next couple of weeks. As construction begins, the passenger terminal on the south side will be relocated to the north in one of the first major changes.

“Everyone complains about the disruptions,” said Marietta Szubski of Bainbridge Island, who said she wouldn’t be doing the same thing. “I don’t care. It’s gotta be done; the planners are doing the best they can.”

The project is funded by federal, state and local dollars. The schedule calls for the new Colman Dock to be complete in 2023.

Open houses will be held on the following dates:

Monday, June 26th
Kitsap Conference Center

Tuesday, June 27th
Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island Sr. Ctr.

Thursday, June 29th
Downtown Seattle
Center for Architecture and Design

Drop In Sessions
Wednesday, June 21
Seattle Terminal and King County Water Taxi Waiting Area

Thursday, June 22nd
Chimacum Community Celebration
Bremerton Ferry Terminal
211 1st St

2017 Colman Dock Renovation Project by KING 5 News on Scribd