FAUNTLEROY FERRY DOCK: Nine replacement options shown at Community Advisory Group’s first meeting in a year

(The seven size/shape options that represent the nine alternatives)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Nine possible sizes and shapes for Fauntleroy’s new ferry dock were shown by Washington State Ferries when it convened the project’s Community Advisory Group last night for the first time since Septtember 2022.

Since then, WSF has extended the timeline for the project by two years. And ferry-system leaders said they expect to have to ask the State Legislature for more money, no matter which option is chosen.

In addition to reviewing the nine possibilities, group members also picked up on some new factors in the discussion. For example, they noted that WSF managers brought Captain’s Park into it for the first time – that’s the tall-tree-dotted lookout spot atop the embankment immediately across lower Fauntleroy Way from the dock entrance. After a followup question from advisory-group member Judy Pickens of Fauntleroy, WSF’s David Sowers said that if it were determined that Fauntleroy Way needed an extra lane for smoother traffic flow, they’d have to cut into the bluff. “Not something we want to do but something our consultant brought up.” Pickens warned it would surface a multitude of issues, including archaelogical considerations.

But let’s get back to those alternatives. First, here’s what they ruled out in the first two levels of screening possibilities:

And here are the basics for the two concepts they settled on:

Note that slide says “same size.” Reviewing the nine options, advisory-group member Frank Immel of Fauntleroy observed that the first three are described instead as “similar size,” and would be at least 18 feet wider than the current dock. Design-team manager Edd Thomas attributed that to “design standards” including lane width on the dock, plus the addition of bike lanes and a motorcycle staging lane. So, starting with the “similar size” Alternative A and its two ticketing variations, here are the options – note that 124 cars is something of a magic number because that’s the capacity of the Issaquah-class ferries serving the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route:

(See color renderings in the full slide deck.) Here are characteristics that all those options have in common:

This meeting wasn’t to settle on one of them – in fact, the Community Advisory Group members were also asked for feedback on the proposed criteria that WSF staff will udr to screen them. But they did have questions. One that came up multiple times was whether the dock can remain somehow partly in service during construction, or whether all boats will have to be diverted. Sowers said that hadn’t been decided yet. Was overhead passenger loading under consideration? They still need to “study” it. What about a second slip? Sowers said that can’t be “completely ruled out” but it would cost at least $40 million more than they have in the budget – a budget that they expect will ultimately be inadequate anyway, requiring a request to the Legislature for more money just to build the basics.

Another question – why are two “A” options the only ones that might incorporate either Good To Go or “advanced” ticketing, which had been discussed extensively at previous meetings as possible ways to speed up loading and avoid backups on Fauntleroy Way? The reply was that they only considered using them to get more “bang for the buck” if the smallest size was chosen.

And in addition to the question mentioned earlier about Captain’s Park, concerns also surfaced about Cove Park. WSF had previously scrapped the idea of over-land dock widening, particularly because of possible effects on that beloved, community-stewarded beach immediately north of the dock. Yes, there’s likely to be “some effects,” WSF’s environmental lead Marsha Tolon acknowledged. She also spoke to another environmental factor – how the project could affect eelgrass in the cove.

The online meeting (Friday morning update: see the video here) wrapped up after two hours; WSF promised to bring the group together again after a much-shorter time, “early next year.” After that, they’d likely have community meetings. A preferred alternative is to be chosen by 2025, with construction starting by 2027.

FEEDBACK: If you have something to tell the WSF project team, FauntleroyTermProj@wsdot.wa.gov is the email address to use.

43 Replies to "FAUNTLEROY FERRY DOCK: Nine replacement options shown at Community Advisory Group's first meeting in a year"

  • Morgan October 27, 2023 (6:49 am)

    Little confused why if hood to go adds bang for buck wouldn’t help every alternative?eelgrass and habitat I’m glad are important considerations. Personally, like A2 and then B2.

  • Tbone October 27, 2023 (8:55 am)

    remove it! it does not belong in a neighborhood or next to Lincoln park!

    • WestSeattleBadTakes October 27, 2023 (9:55 am)

      I say, convert it to pedestrian only. We can’t afford nor should we continue to subsidize the movement of cars this way.

      • Rhonda October 27, 2023 (12:49 pm)

        WestSeattleBadTakes, my elderly parents live on Vashon and taking their vehicles back and forth via Fauntleroy is literally their lifeline. It’s also how building materials, ambulance patient transfers, fuels, and goods and services get to everyone out there. Perhaps we should make your neighborhood “pedestrian only” for a several-mile radius and see how you get your mail, Amazon deliveries, drywall, visiting relatives, groceries, etc. 

        • Tbone October 27, 2023 (2:04 pm)

          Everything you mentioned can be found on the kitsap peninsula….

          • Rhonda October 27, 2023 (4:26 pm)


            1. 1.a piece of land surrounded by water.”the island of Crete”
        • Louie October 28, 2023 (6:18 pm)

          Funnily enough if there were large areas of the waterfront neighborhoods all around the sound that weren’t necessarily pedistran only, but pedistran and bike friendly enough that for most things you wouldn’t need a car, then there would be less cars on the ferry to begin with, which would make it way easier and cheaper for everyone to ride the ferry. I got in the 4:05 ferry from the island and rode the C line to SLU every day for work for 18th months, and if I had been forced to drive, I would have spent orders of magnitude more time and money than I did riding the bus to work. Giving the same amount of space to bikes and people doesn’t mean no more cars, it means cars for people that actually need to use a car. Vashon is one of those places also that could be incredibly bike friendly, and something like and electric cargo bike is a vehicle you could use as your only vehicle on Vashon. Imagine how much better ferry traffic would be with half the cars driving on being ebikes!

      • TMQ October 29, 2023 (1:39 am)

        Pedestrian only? You’re joking right because that would never be a viable option. This route has a very small number of walk-on’s compared to the other routes in WSF.

    • Layne October 27, 2023 (10:02 am)

      Good grief. Hah! :D

    • Thomas J. Smith October 28, 2023 (9:16 am)

      The dock has been there longer then your neighborhood 

    • Aaron October 30, 2023 (8:38 am)

      That ship has sailed. Next.

  • Ferry October 27, 2023 (10:13 am)

    Looking forward to a longer dock that gets rid of that long line of cars along Fauntleroy! Make it big enough so that it is future-proofed, so that the line doesn’t reappear in 10 or 20 years.

    • foop October 27, 2023 (11:26 am)

      Take the C line to the ferry. Bring an E-Bike or use the transit in the Island / Peninsula.

    • ferrying October 27, 2023 (11:28 am)

      Ferry, none of the options removes the line of cars from Fauntleroy Way. Some of the options may decrease the size of the line on the road some of the time – but there will always be a line as long as the toll booths are by the street .  If fare collection were moved to Vashon and Southworth, then a bigger 124-186 car dock at Fauntleroy would make sense.  Because of the residential nature of Fauntleroy, and the fact that arterials in and out of Fauntleroy are constrained, no dock of any size is going to remove the ferry line.   

      • TMQ October 29, 2023 (1:57 am)

        Disagree, with 2 toll booths there might be a very small line occasionally but it takes well under a minute to sell a ticket. And more importantly that plan wouldn’t work. Southworth cars pay going each way.

    • norsegirl October 27, 2023 (12:00 pm)


      • Ferry October 27, 2023 (12:43 pm)

        @Ferrying – Not true. Look at Alternative C. It says Fauntleroy Way: 0 vehicles. You may disagree, but I’m more inclined to listen to the WSF traffic engineers. 

        • Wayne October 27, 2023 (6:53 pm)

          They may say 0 cars on Fauntleroy, but I’d bet real money that during a major holiday weekend, there will a line on the street at some time.

          • Ferry October 27, 2023 (8:00 pm)

            “Zero cars except for major holiday weekends” sounds pretty darn good to me!

          • ferrying October 30, 2023 (10:17 am)

            The ferry lane on Fauntleroy, when backed up to the top of Lincoln Park is in excess of 200 cars long. A 188 car dock will not absorb all those cars and keep Fauntleroy Way clear.    No matter what WSF says, there will be cars on Fauntleroy Way.  

    • Aaron October 30, 2023 (8:40 am)

      Me too! The long line along Fauntleroy is an accident waiting to happen. Cars parked make it stressful for those in line, and there is no good way for medical cases to wait for the ferry at the dock.

  • Joe Z October 27, 2023 (11:04 am)

    Is it just me or do all of these look the same? The construction/environmental impact is going to be essentially equivalent for all of them. 

  • Niko October 27, 2023 (6:30 pm)

    It’s absolutely absurd that they’re not even considering a second slip! That would make it so they wouldn’t have to widen it and it would be more efficient getting cars on and off

    • TMQ October 29, 2023 (1:59 am)

      Sorry but that makes no sense. In order to fit a 2nd slip you would definitely have to widen the dock. And a 2nd slip would do nothing in regards to removing cars lines up along the roadway.

      • Dwight McCabe October 29, 2023 (11:06 am)

        A single slip is a bottleneck when we have three boat service restored. Two slips are critical for efficient service. And that doesn’t even account for future growth in traffic demand. (Southworth traffic is much much higher than it was when the current dock was built decades ago.)If we want to keep ferry lines from backing onto Fauntleroy Way, we need to increase efficiency and not have long backups on every Friday night or holiday weekend.

        • Joe Z October 30, 2023 (12:47 pm)

          Three boat service is never coming back.

        • TMQ October 31, 2023 (12:50 pm)

          Well there is your first mistake. You actually believe we will have 3 boats again. We’re at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to getting another boat. More importantly a 3rd boat isn’t needed with the current traffic levels. And again a 2nd slip isn’t going to speed up anything. The biggest contributing factor to the slow down is selling tickets. Having 2 boats back to back is pointless if you can’t fill the dock for each sailing.

      • Niko October 29, 2023 (11:19 am)

        Obviously you’ve never been over to vash on. Yes they would have to widen the dock slightly but not nearly as much. Oftentimes when a ferry sits waiting offshore it’s because the boat that is docked is slow to unload/behind schedule or in the process of loading. If they had another spot where they could start offloading cars It would help significantly. Also if we were back to a three boat schedule this wouldn’t be much of a problem

        Almost seems like they’re doing it deliberately to justify the dock expansion

      • Aaron October 30, 2023 (8:41 am)

        As a long time Vashon resident (since 1975), I can easily argue that an extra slip would make a difference. 

        • TMQ October 31, 2023 (12:52 pm)

          How so? Having boats back to back is pointless if you can’t fill the dock fast enough. The issue of boats waiting on each other can easily be resolved with schedule adjustments 

  • Big Bertha October 28, 2023 (8:02 am)

    I think we should replace this route with a tunnel.

  • Steph October 28, 2023 (5:40 pm)

    Common sense says build the biggest dock because by the time they get it done it will probably not be big enough.  I personally think this is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars for a limited few, but the way our government does things I predict they will spend millions then want billions because it will be obsolete.  No one on the Island wants bridges or tunnels because then they wouldn’t be as safe as they are, being somewhat isolated from the criminals destroying West Seattle neighborhoods.  I’d love that safety, but can’t afford Vashon now. Then, after we taxpayers pay for a new dock, property values will go even higher, making big profits for existing owners at our expense while we are stuck with the riffraff running amok shooting and mugging citizens right and left.

    • TMQ October 29, 2023 (2:04 am)

      Well for starters the cost of building a bridge or tunnel would be astronomical. More importantly the only place it would even be remotely possible would be from Vashon to Port Orchard.  Which makes zero sense as the vast majority of people are going to Seattle. Also houses in West Seattle are basically the same price as on Vashon.

      • Shawn October 30, 2023 (12:23 pm)

        Correction – houses in West Seattle are significantly more expensive than Vashon. 

    • Ivan Weiss October 31, 2023 (2:25 pm)

      @ Steph: What “limited few” are you talking about? All the growth and population increase is in Kitsap County. Very little of it, in comparison, is on Vashon. The increased traffic is mostly from Southworth passengers, not Vashon. And there are a hell of a lot more of them than any “limited few.”

  • elizabethcase October 28, 2023 (9:20 pm)

    Neighbors, we’re impressed with the Community Advisory Group and the Technical Advisory Group — they are thoughtfully engaging and the WSDOT Ferries team seems to be listening and working hard to strike a balance among the diverse concerns. It’s not an easy problem to solve, but after worrying for more than a year, we’re starting to feel that the outcome will be better for all of this process. Thanks to everyone involved! After listening to the TAG meeting recording, it sounds like the regulators may prefer the narrower and longer dock option, which makes us wonder if a slight location adjustment to the north would make the construction phasing easier so as to minimize impacts to ferry operations. If the new dock shifts slightly north, the old dock could continue to function while the new dock is being built. The Fauntleroy Community came out strongly to protect Cove Park, a really nice access point to the beach along a street end, and Ferries has responded by keeping the dock narrow adjacent to the park so as to avoid impacts. No one wants to lose access to the beach and the artwork and sculptures at Cove Park are beautiful. But they could use more space — that gorgeous salmon spawning bench faces high shrubbery instead of the water. We’re curious — what would the larger community think about moving Cove Park to the south of the dock, and enhancing it? So many children and community members love Fauntleroy Creek and have a connection to the coho salmon that return. If step one was relocating Cove Park to the south, before commencing construction of the new dock to the north, we’d get an amenity for the community right away. And, if property owners and public agencies were willing, it might even be expanded. Instead of a concrete driveway paved in colors to reference a creek, we might be able to create a lovely pocket park for people to access the beach and connect to the Fauntleroy Creek. It would need to be a natural area, where visitors would respect the habitat. We’re property owners open to being a part of such a solution. IF the community were interested in such an option, should we try to get this in for consideration in the PEL study? We realize some are concerned that the creek is better off in private ownership, but it is one of only 6 creek mouths in the city — and to us — it seems like it could be a valuable public resource. As Richard Louv so eloquently pointed out “We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense.” 

  • Dwight McCabe October 29, 2023 (11:00 am)

    This set of options is incredibly shortsighted. This dock will service Vashon and Southworth for the next 30-50 years but even the largest options makes fairly minor changes to capacity to barely cover current needs. They will be totally inadequate to cover growing demand in coming years. Our problem now is the dock was built for a much lower traffic demand. We should not repeat that error. The most glaring omission is the lack of a second slip “to save money”. We will not get efficient service without two slips at Fauntleroy. When normal service of three boats is restored, a single slip is a nasty bottleneck. We also need to remove the overflow onto Fauntleroy Way as much as possible and provide safe ways to enter the holding line from the south. I commuted from Vashon for 12 years and the traffic situation on Fauntleroy Way is plain dangerous plus causes problems for normal traffic flow along the road.

    • Aaron October 30, 2023 (8:43 am)

      I agree. This “solution” is a band aid when what is needed is a rethink.

    • Ivan Weiss October 31, 2023 (2:20 pm)

      There is no need for a second slip and there never has been one. Bottlenecks, rare though they are, are easily solved by adjusting scheduling. The solution to the problem of cars lining up on Fauntleroy Way is to WIDEN the dock to reduce the overflow. But it appears that WSF has caved to the NIMBYs and won’t be considering that. The second-best option, I suppose, is to increase capacity by lengthening it. Otherwise, be prepared for the lines to continue. Can’t have it both ways.

  • Jake October 29, 2023 (12:44 pm)

    If there is only one slip, there is no alternative for loading and unloading when the slip has a mechanical failure. Two slips can also expedite loading and unloading. The two slips on Vashon sometimes have one boat loading while the other boat is unloading.

    • TMQ October 31, 2023 (1:30 pm)

      The difference with Vashon is they don’t have to sell tickets. Doesn’t matter how fast you can unload boats if you can’t fill the dock between departures. A 2nd slip is a waste of resources when the bottleneck issue can be resolved with schedule adjustments.

  • Aaron October 30, 2023 (8:47 am)

    Well it looks like ferry traffic problems will continue to grow at the expense of long time Vashon residents. Does the state owe us 50 million in additional funds to make meaningful change? No, but then King County collects property taxes on Vashon, benefits from tourism and the ferry system is part of the highway system. Either admit the service is inadequate and face lawsuits, or fix the system.

  • Teri Smith November 1, 2023 (7:26 am)


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