Cantwell Announces $5.9M Grant for Colman Dock Ferry Project

Grant will help build Elevated Pedestrian Connector for easier access to WSF service, increasing capacity, safety, connectivity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the Washington State Department of Transportation will receive a $5.9 million grant to build an Elevated Pedestrian Connector (EPC) at the Seattle Multimodal Ferry Terminal at Colman Dock in Seattle.

The funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through the Passenger Ferry Grant Program. Cantwell wrote a letter supporting the grant application in April 2019.

“As ferry traffic continues to grow throughout the Puget Sound region, we must continue to invest in our infrastructure,” Senator Cantwell said. “The Elevated Pedestrian Connector project is a vital element of the overall reconstruction of the Seattle Multimodal Terminal. It will replace the aging and seismically vulnerable components of the terminal to ensure safe and reliable ferry service for years to come.”

The EPC will provide a new connection from the Marion Street Pedestrian Bridge and the pedestrian promenade on Alaskan Way to the new ferry terminal building at Colman Dock, the passenger-only ferry facility, and the ferry slips. It will be used by passengers using the ferry services to and from Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, as well as passenger-only ferries provided by the King County Marine Division and Kitsap Transit.

“Our ferry terminal at Colman Dock serves as a critical multimodal hub for people connecting between destinations across the Puget Sound. WSDOT designed the new terminal in a way that encourages people to travel without their car, through improving facilities for people walking, biking and connecting to transit. This grant helps fund the Elevated Pedestrian Connector to that terminal and supports increased capacity and a safer, more efficient and reliable connection to Washington State Ferry service and passenger-only ferry service provided by King County and Kitsap Transit,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar.

The Colman Dock facility served more than 10 million ferry passengers in 2018, including more than 5.7 million walk-on passengers. With walk-on ferry ridership projected to grow by nearly 53 percent by 2040, the EPC will help increase the capacity at the terminal to support increased growth in walk-on ferry ridership and reduce single occupancy vehicle usage.

Senator Cantwell has long supported increased ferry funding. She fought for funding for the Passenger Ferry Grant Program in the 2015 FAST Act, helped secure grants for ferries throughout Puget Sound in 2018, and recently wrote a letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs calling for increased funding for ferries in Washington state and throughout the country.

The full text of the letter is available below.

Dear Chairs Barrasso and Crapo and Ranking Members Carper and Brown:

As your committees develop legislation to address our nation’s infrastructure needs through reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, we encourage you to prioritize federal investments and adequate funding levels to reflect the serious needs of our nation’s public ferry systems.

U.S. public ferry systems carry more than 100 million passengers annually throughout 38 states and territories. Across the nation, ferries serve isolated communities and are often the only form of transportation for access to schools, jobs and medical treatment. Additionally, ferries ease traffic congestion, reducing harmful emissions and diminishing wear and tear on our roads and bridges, allowing communities to optimize their infrastructure maintenance dollars. Ferries are also critical to many regions’ ability to respond to natural disasters and emergencies, like when the 9/11 attack disrupted the PATH trains in New York, or when the Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed part of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  

The FAST Act in 2015 authorized $80 million annually for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHwA’s) ferry formula program and $30 million annually for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) passenger ferry grant program. While we appreciate this federal investment, current funding levels for our ferry systems are far short of where they need to be to build, repair and modernize aging boats, terminals and related facilities across the nation.  Our ferries have shared information with us about their capital needs, and it’s clear billions of dollars in federal resources are needed to support and improve existing ferry service, establish new ferry service, and help repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals, and related facilities that millions of people around the country depend on.

State and local governments are doing their part by making large investments in public ferry systems, but they are looking to the federal government to be an active partner in helping to address critical capital needs. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to include ample funding in your FAST Act reauthorization bills for public ferry systems around the country through the FHwA and FTA ferry programs.

Thank you for considering our views.