VIDEO: Stoplight at Fauntleroy ferry intersection before terminal redo? Possibility presented to Community Advisory Group, along with new renderings

The traffic flow – or lack of it – into and out of the Fauntleroy ferry dock has long been a challenge. At peak times, when available and funded, a law-enforcement officer helps. So what about a stoplight? The idea is far from new, but it’s resurfaced during the planning process for the dock-replacement project – and suddenly there’s talk it could be installed a lot sooner. That’s part of what was presented in the most recent meeting of the project’s Community Advisory Group.

First, here’s video of the entire meeting, published Monday (the meeting was held online last Wednesday):

Washington State Ferries managers told the CAG members – who represent all three stops on the route served by this dock, Fauntleroy, Vashon Island, and Southworth (Kitsap County) – that they’ve been talking with SDOT about the possibility of installing a stoplight sooner rather later, and talked about preliminary ideas for how it would work. They also said they had ruled out one controversial idea discussed at an earlier meeting – cutting into the bluff across the street from the dock in order to widen the intersection. (The bluff is topped by a lookout known as Captain’s Park.)

The diagram they showed (top image) was based on the concept of signalizing the intersection based on its current configuration. And the signal would be set up to use vehicle detection – obviously the dock-into-Fauntleroy Way direction wouldn’t be needed in the times between boats’ unloading. Discussion with CAG members included questions about how, or whether, the signalized intersection would discourage drivers from turning left into the dock from northbound Fauntleroy, and how it would be sequenced so that pedestrians and bicyclists could safely get across.

No specific time frame was listed for potential installation.

As for the dock itself, the process is moving toward design and construction in 2027-2029, and a “preferred alternative” size and shape for the replacement isn’t expected to be chosen until next year.

But WSF is continuing to consider seven alternatives (above) – potentially longer and/or wider than the current dock – so another major section of this meeting was devoted to new sets of renderings of how those alternatives would look. The renderings’ views were presented as from the pump station north of the dock, from the Cove Park beach north of the dock, looking toward the water from the street end of the walkway to/from the dock (which could run a fifth of a mile in the longest-new-dock scenario), and from the Captain’s Park lookout across the street. Since there were so many renderings, we have to refer you to the slide deck PDF for a look instead of posting them all here. Here’s a sample set, though – the existing view from Captain’s Park and the rendering of what the longest, largest alternative – C, which could hold up to 186 vehicles, a boatload and a half – would look like from there:

The WSF project engineering lead who presented the various sets of renderings, Edd Thomas, was asked questions such as how the motorcycle and bicycle loading – envisioned to have their own lanes – would work, and what sort of elevation change would be required from street to dock in order to prepare for sea-level rise. (Not much, was that reply – the current dock is a bit of a drop from the tollbooths, so that would instead be leveled out.) Another question: With the dock surface potentially much larger, what kind of light permeability would be built in, in order to avoid shading so much more water? Still under evaluation, was the reply – maybe some glass block along the south side of the dock.

The project is currently in a variety of studies before moving into the next phase of alternating alternatives. One major issue that’s being studied is how ferry traffic would be affected by advance ticketing or the Good To Go! automatic-payment pass system – potentially enabling the new dock to have a footprint similar to the existing one. WSF managers promised they will have that information at the next meeting, probably sometime in March. (UPDATE: It’s scheduled for 6 pm March 20.) In the meantime, the project is a major topic on tonight’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting agenda, with guests from WSF, 6 pm at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (9131 California SW), open to the community (also viewable online).

14 Replies to "VIDEO: Stoplight at Fauntleroy ferry intersection before terminal redo? Possibility presented to Community Advisory Group, along with new renderings"

  • westseattlebob February 13, 2024 (1:39 pm)

    I wonder if the design review could include some kind of plantings in the strip between outbound in inbound traffic. Would be nice to have some kind of greenery other than pavement and would be a functional barrier between the two sides.

    • Alki resident February 13, 2024 (2:23 pm)

      That wouldn’t be feasible with the large trucks and semis that turn in and out of that area. Lincoln Park is right there for greenery. 

    • Scott February 13, 2024 (3:44 pm)

      A planter strip would block the gorgeous view.  Waiting for the ferry to arrive is boring. Let’s let’s not make it more so.

  • Bruce Ramon February 13, 2024 (4:14 pm)

    Great Idea! This would greatly improve both safety and efficiency of access and egress for both pedestrians and motorists.  

  • Lola February 13, 2024 (4:27 pm)

    I can see one more street becoming much busier if this is put in. 

  • Alex February 13, 2024 (4:45 pm)

    I use the ferry dock crosswalk several times a week and have greatly appreciated the police stopping the cars from leaving the dock for us pedestrians.   Would hope a new light system would allow pedestrians that courtesy as well.This is interesting that SDOT would allow a light given that traffic traveling west on Wildwood has to turn right on a blind curve onto Fauntleroy.   There is likely to be some unlucky driver stopped just after the curve waiting for the light to turn green and be rear ended by the next driver who can’t stop in time.    Despite that being a blind curve, SDOT installed an ADA curb cutout on the curve and when asked if a crosswalk could also be installed between the curb cutout and the SE corner of that curve, SDOT said it was too dangerous.

    • Lisa Ruiz February 13, 2024 (8:20 pm)

      Interesting point of view! That blind curve is really tricky. 

    • C February 13, 2024 (10:17 pm)

      I agree- I live up the street and that curve would be so sketchy with a light at the bottom of it- people go so fast down Wildwood it’s shocking- could see a lot of rear-end accidents happening.. plus the four way stop at wildwood and 45th would get sooo backed up (more so than now I bet!) with a red light involved at the bottom of the hill…all very interesting… 

  • Lisa Ruiz February 13, 2024 (8:19 pm)

    I live in Arbor Heights. A few years ago, I was driving past the terminal on NB Fauntleroy and was T-Boned (in my car) by a ferry exiter who ran the stop sign at an accelerated speed. I was hit hard enough that I spun around into the SB lane. Luckily there was no oncoming traffic. My back was injured and I still have residual pain. I could tell the driver felt badly. I think he was just trying to get off the ferry as quickly as possible. I, personally, am all for ANY safety improvements, as a result of my accident, and am very thankful when traffic patrol is there to help!

  • John February 13, 2024 (10:35 pm)

    Why are they so stuck on widening the dock and not adding a second slip?! There could be significantly less disruption to the marine life if they reinforced the current dock and then added a second slip so they could move cars in and out faster. They talk about needing to fit more cars on the dock but the dock could be 10 times as wide and if they can’t get the boats in and out it helps nothing

    • Tina February 18, 2024 (1:20 pm)

      Right? With some sort of combo or hybrid electronic situation, it would be smarter. However, we all know how that goes around here. 

  • Dwight McCabe February 14, 2024 (8:06 am)

    I was a long time daily commuter from Vashon to Fauntleroy and back. One of the biggest challenges is coming down Barton and then heading north past the dock and turning around to get into the ferry line which s light at the end of the dock eint help. It’s especially difficult in the afternoon rush hour with lots of traffic heading north and south in addition to the long ferry line. 

    • Brian February 14, 2024 (10:43 am)

      Why wouldn’t you approach from a different side then? At the very least you can turn right at the four-way stop at 45th and as long as the line isn’t too long that will put you where you need to be when it dumps back out onto Fauntleroy Way SW. Alternatively, there’s absolutely no reason why a commuter can’t use the fully functioning parking lot at Lincoln Park to complete a safe and legal u-turn. 

      • Absolutely February 15, 2024 (2:08 am)

        Hear, hear Brian

Sorry, comment time is over.