State considering fish, neighbors at Lofall ferry dock

The Department of Transportation is constructing a water shuttle dock at Lofall in advance of the May-June 2009 Hood Canal Bridge closure. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The Department of Transportation is constructing a water shuttle dock at Lofall in advance of the May-June 2009 Hood Canal Bridge closure.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Scroll to the bottom of this page to view the May to June 2009 Lofall and Southpoint water shuttle schedules.

POULSBO — Washington State Department of Transportation and Kiewit-General crews started dock construction in Lofall last week as a part of its Hood Canal Bridge closure mitigation plan.. The dock, along with another at South Point in Jefferson County, will serve as a launch point for temporary passenger-only water shuttle service during the six-week closure beginning May 1.

Pile-driving work scheduled to conclude within two weeks will occur within the state-mandated fish window to ensure fish are not affected, the DOT said in a press release. The department is taking additional environmental precautions around work zones to reduce underwater noise, it stated.

But the DOT isn't just looking to keep the noise level low for marine life.

DOT spokesman Joe Irwin said when the short-term ferry system is up and running, vessels will dock "bow in," meaning engine noise will be aimed into the canal instead of toward surrounding homes.

Project Design Team Leader Eric Strauch and Washington State Ferries Operations Manager Leonard Smith said shuttles — which the WSF will operate — will only use their horns in the event of heavy fog. Neighbors don't need to worry about warning horns sounding with each and every run.

Irwin also said low-noise generators will allow crews to turn a key and get the shuttles started quickly each day.

The DOT "will be using decibel meters to ensure minimal noise from generators that will be used to keep the vessels 'warmed up' during their off hours," Irwin said in an email.

The first of four 80- to 100-foot long pilings were driven at South Point Tuesday last week. Crews began driving the remaining four piles at Lofall on Wednesday. Once complete, according to the release, the pilings will secure two 30-foot by 80-foot floating docks in place. The docks and 150-foot gangways will be installed in late March and early April, providing travelers access to the water shuttle service.

“The six-week period won’t be easy,” said Dave Ziegler, principal engineer for the Hood Canal Bridge Project, in a prepared statement. “But we’re looking forward to providing the water shuttle as an alternative so people can avoid driving around the canal during the closure.”

The DOT is encouraging people to prepare for the closure by reviewing their transportation options to determine the best alternate route now.

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