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Work starts on $4.7 million makeover of Bainbridge Island ferry terminal

Ferry commuters can look forward to a new and improved Bainbridge Island terminal come this September.

The renovation will focus on reinforcing the building’s walls for earthquake safety and modifying it to meet handicap guidelines.

With 4.17 million Bainbridge Island ferry passengers as of 2012, the renovated terminal will likewise improve the general flow of commuter traffic, officials said.

To do this, there are a series of items on the to-do list in addition to reinforcing exterior walls.

The public restrooms will be enlarged and moved to a different location in the building. The inside tollbooths will be demolished. The building will have all new exterior windows, sliding doors, roof, electrical panel, and more efficient light fixtures, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Facilities will also be created inside the building to provide add-on retail space to the Washington State Ferries’ Commuter Comforts coffee stand.

Construction is planned to be completed by PHC Construction — a Bainbridge-based company that was awarded the contract for the rehabilitation project last November.

It will be carried out in a series of phases.

The first phase of construction will begin Monday, Jan. 27 and carry through Feb. 28.

During this month, the south entrance of the building, facing the vehicle loading zone, will be closed.

This will close access from the southwestern corner of the building, closest to the bus terminal, to the top of the walk-on wooden ramp.

“The middle wall has to be totally removed,” said Leonard Smith, the operation manager for the project.

The first phase will include reinforcing the foundation of the southern middle wall, demolishing the inside tollbooths and beginning construction on the new restrooms, Smith explained.

Over the course of the next eight months of work, each phase will tackle a different side of the nearly 60-year-old building, so that at any given time, at least one entrance will be closed off.

The state Department of Transportation, Smith explained, will also be taking this opportunity to negotiate with Kitsap Transit to consider moving taxi parking onto bus terminal property, which could open up passenger pick-up space at the front of the building.

During the construction project, taxis will also have three reserved spots in the passenger parking area.

Should Kitsap Transit oppose moving taxis onto the bus terminal property, Smith explained, the reserved parking spaces could potentially become their permanent waiting area.

“We haven’t discussed that move with the taxis yet,” Smith said.

Since the project team will be discussing temporary parking with taxi companies soon, however, Smith said they will have an opportunity to present the idea.

“My plan is, if I have it my way, I’ll leave them there,” Smith said.

In addition, the bike racks will be moved during the later phases of construction from their location at the foot of the staircase on the eastern side of the building to a ground-level spot near the handicap parking area.

If the relocation proves positive, Smith said, it will likewise be a permanent move.

Also to be completed in later phases of the project,  is an indoors Commuter Comforts.

Come September, officials said, the popular coffee stand will offer service to waiting travelers inside while also maintaining the outside stand to help facilitate ferry rush hours.

Though the renovation project offers opportunities for better guiding the flow of walk-on traffic, there is little in store for aesthetic improvements.

The renovation project has been granted approximately $4.7 million in state and federal funds, but those funds will not stray far from the technical improvements already identified by the Department of Transportation.

Moreover, grants allocated for local art installations at government buildings are limited to new structures, explained Nicole McIntosh of WSF.

“We have embraced some local projects inside the building,” McIntosh said. “Inside there is a little bit more opportunity than there is going to be outside.”

To offer ideas on beautifying the building’s interior with local art, for more information on the anticipated improvements or to give feedback, contact Joy Goldenberg at joy.goldenberg@wsdot.wa.gov or McIntosh at nicole.mcintosh@wsdot.wa.gov.

To view a map that identifies access points and construction areas during the first phase of the project, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr305/bainbridgeterminalrehab.

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