BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — Starting this summer, the Washington Department of Transportation will begin a project to rebuild the the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal's walkway. It's a project that's been in the works since 2018.
The long, wood pillared hallway has gotten people on and off the ferry for nearly 50 years.
"This one has been around for a long time, so I think it's time to feel a little more confident about the infrastructure," said Bainbridge resident Betsy Daniels.
A rebuild will replace the aged wooden structure with concrete piers and steel pile foundations connected by steel trusses. WSDOT said this will meet current federal seismic standards. The rebuild is also expected to be more environmentally friendly by removing creosote-coated timber piles and building energy-efficient methods for heating and cooling.
"I've just really seen the improvement on the Seattle side and really hope to see some of that on the Bainbridge side," said Daniels.
The Bainbridge Ferry is the busiest in the state. WSDOT said ferry traffic is once again increasing. Before the pandemic, 3.2 million people took the Bainbridge Ferry every year.
WSDOT is currently holding a virtual open house on the rebuild project where people can submit comments.
The project is budgeted for $33 million. WSDOT said construction is expected to cost $27.4 million. Funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant and matching funds from the Washington State Legislature.
WSDOT expects construction to begin this summer, which is the ferry route's busiest time of year. The department said despite the summer start, it doesn't expect any impacts for travelers until winter.
However, there will be two major impacts to service, according to WSDOT. The first will be in the winter of 2022-2023. WSDOT said the overhead walkway will be closed over three individual weekends. During this time, walk-on customers will load on the car deck. The second will be in the fall of 2023. WSDOT said it will close the trestle for six days. During the closure, the Seattle/Bainbridge Island route will have limited one boat walk-on only passenger service. The department said it will add an additional vessel to the Edmonds/Kingston route to accommodate rerouted travel.
Construction on the new walkway is expected to be completed in fall 2023. WSDOT said the old walkway will be demolished sometime in fall 2023 or winter 2024.