You heard about it here first last month, after the Alki Community Council got briefed on it … tonight, supporters have just made their official announcement, press release and all, about the proposal to move the Water Taxi to Port of Seattle land next to Jack Block Park, with lots more room than its current Seacrest home …
… The idea will have to make it past a lot of governmental entities, to say the least. Ultimately, the people behind the proposal think it would be part of the newly created King County Ferry District. Click ahead to read the full text of tonight’s press release, hot out of our inbox …
A proposal for a permanent and expanded water taxi service from West Seattle was made public today. The plan calls for building a new facility on land owned by the Port of Seattle in West Seattle. Located at Pier 2, it would provide an all-weather docking area with a convenient link to local shuttles, as well as a “park and sail” lot for 500 vehicles. An existing trail would allow convenient access for bicyclists and the adjacent Jack Block Park provide a scenic setting for waiting commuters.
Initiated by members of local community and business groups, the plan offers the possibility of turning the highly popular seasonal water taxi service now located at Seacrest Boathouse into a high capacity public transportation system that would offer commuting choices for the 100,000 residents of West Seattle. Weinstein A/U, a highly respected architecture and urban design firm, has produced schematic studies that demonstrate the viability of the concept. Lesley Bain, principal in charge of the project: “Water based transit is a natural for our city. The amount of infrastructure necessary to make it happen is minimal; our region has used water for public transportation since the days of the Mosquito fleet.” Tony Fragada, Alki community leader and chair of the planning committee, believes that this plan represents the outcome of many years of community efforts to strengthen the public uses of the waterfront in West Seattle.
Vlad Oustimovitch, a West Seattle architect and planner acting as the project manager for the proposed project, says that the strength of the plan isn’t just practicality; it is the community based effort which generated it. “Transportation plans always seem to be controversial – this one isn’t. I have never seen the degree of support we are getting from virtually everyone, be they a citizen, politician, environmentalist or business leader.”
Dennis Ross, another community leader involved in the project, cautions that despite the positive response, there are still hurdles yet to overcome. Many different levels of government will need to work together to make this plan a reality, at City, County, Port, State and Federal levels but Ross feels that “Our strength is that as community members we are the constituents at all levels of government.” Adds Ann Owchar, another committee member: “I hope that the traditional divisions between different governments do not become an impediment to a practical plan that meets the urgent public transportation needs of our region.”
It is likely that the construction and management of a new facility would be built as part of the newly created County Ferry District, which plans to initiate similar service for a number of different locations in the region. The Port of Seattle and Metro are currently conducting a feasibility study of the proposal, which will be completed before the end of summer, but the project team is optimistic that the plan will be successful. “A permanent water taxi is a chance for our peninsula to have a viable public transportation network, and I am excited that West Seattle can be the example for other such ferries in our city,” says Patti Mullen, Executive Director of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
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