Holiday traffic leads to long waits at Bainbridge ferry terminal

Ferry traffic was at a standstill yet again, but this time it wasn’t just a broken boat holding up the lines.

Travelers who celebrated the Fourth of July in Kitsap were greeted with long wait times and epic lines at the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry crossing. Mechanical issues, holiday travelers and construction on the Sound to Olympics Trail all played a part in the long wait times at the docks this week.

This has been a rough week for ferry commuters on the island. On June 30, the M/V Tacoma was pulled out of service causing the ferry to miss three round trips on July 2 and another round trip on the Fourth of July.

A line of cars stretched from the downtown Winslow ferry terminal back to Madison Avenue on Wednesday, July 5 as travelers flocked to the terminal.

The congestion this time, Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner said, was the result of a couple factors.

“It was a perfect storm of two factors; the day after a holiday and the construction shutting down the regular lane and then that pushed everybody into the ferry lane. It just wreaked havoc. It was a domino effect — one exacerbated the next,” Hamner said.

Construction on the first mile of the Sound to Olympics Trail has taken up one of the northbound lanes, whittling the road down to just a single lane for northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic.

Hamner said that in order to open up the lanes to traffic, an agreement was reached with the owner of the construction company working on the STO Trail to suspend any construction activity for the rest of the day on Wednesday as ferry delays stretched into the afternoon (and continued into the night).

Hamner also noted that the July 5 traffic was not an unusual occurrence.

“When these things happen, this isn’t an anomaly. This happens almost every holiday, or Sundays. When there’s large events in Seattle, these things will always happen.”

Holiday traffic leads to long waits at Bainbridge ferry terminal