Kingston Port eyes foot ferries

KINGSTON — The Port of Kingston doesn’t want to wait long before seeing action on a transit corridor through the community’s downtown commercial area.

This urgency became apparent March 26 as Kitsap Transit Executive Director Richard Hayes presented drafts of conceptual drawings for a passenger-only ferry terminal to the Port of Kingston Commissioners.

Hayes said the legislative efforts were ongoing and a bill that will allow Kitsap Transit to proceed with its passenger-only ferry plans was passed by the state Senate recently and is now in the state House.

“That could be further refined on (Friday) or Monday,” Hayes said, noting that the legislature would be including additional details on labor unions.

The bill proposes to drop the current Bremerton foot ferry and add commuter routes to Southworth and Kingston, he explained.

“We still believe we are in the best possible position,” Hayes said. “I still think we are. I think they are going to support us in a pinch.”

As for the construction and redesign of the Kingston ferry terminal to accommodate the proposed ferry system, Hayes proposed three plans.

A temporary terminal plan suggested calls for a float at the end of the Port of Kingston’s breakwater wall in the harbor.

“It involves putting a float at the end of what customers will describe as a very long walkway,” Hayes said.

Port of Kingston Commissioner Marc Bissonnette disagreed with the plan though and noted that it would block the harbor’s entrance from the Puget Sound.

The second concept, a near-term terminal plan, would require Kitsap Transit to lease part of a current, unused float at the Kingston terminal from Washington State Ferries.

The long-term plan would utilize the existing float at the terminal while a a new float was created at the site.

“I think the near-term plan is the only one that is feasible,” Bissonnette said.

“We’re trying to get a sense of the primary alternative and focus on how feasible it really is and how it could be done,” Hayes remarked, adding that he would like to work directly with the Port’s developer on the proposed construction.

“I personally don’t want to be sitting on this for six months,” said Commissioner Tom Coultas.

Hayes said plans are not expected to take that long, as Kitsap Transit already received funding to design the new dock. He also said he wanted to meet with port manager Gary Johnston and the port’s developer, Richard Dunlap of Heron Point Development Co. LLC for further design discussions. Commissioners reiterated that completing a feasibility study with Kitsap Transit on the three concepts was still an option.

While WSF’s passenger-only ferry service will end this June, Kitsap Transit has been pushing for a three-tenths of a percent increase in sales tax on the November ballot this year that will allow it to start passenger-only ferry service next summer.

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