Drivers heading to Bainbridge Island from Washington State Ferries’ Colman Dock will find shrinking — and shifting — holding lanes at the ferry terminal.
The changes started Wednesday, Sept. 26. Both the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton vehicle holding lanes have moved to new locations and have been reduced in size as available space on the dock becomes more limited.
“There will be less and less room on the dock to hold waiting traffic, especially north of the terminal building where most of the demolition and construction will occur,” said construction engineer Bryant Bullamore.
“We know this may be confusing at first, especially for people who regularly drive onto Colman Dock,” Bullamore added. “However, reconfiguring the available space for waiting vehicles makes it possible for us to replace the aging and seismically-vulnerable terminal, while accommodating as many cars as possible.”
WSF is advising drivers to watch for signs and follow ferry terminal crew directions at the toll plaza during the next several months, as available space for vehicle holding becomes even more limited later this fall and into 2019.
When the dock is full, all overflow vehicle traffic will be directed to wait in nearby holding lanes on Pier 48, a few blocks south of the terminal.
Though the area for Bainbridge-bound cars is shrinking, officials noted it will still hold almost a boat-load of vehicles.
The Bainbridge waiting area south of the terminal building will hold up to 194 vehicles, only seven cars fewer than the vessels on that route. The Bremerton waiting area in the north will hold 110 vehicles, 30 fewer than vessels on that route.
Vehicles from the off-site holding lanes will be loaded to finish filling the boat.
The slip where vessels pull in and push out for each destination will also swap to correspond with the new waiting locations. Staging vehicles near the slip they use increases loading efficiency and reduces the number of vehicles that would need to wait at nearby Pier 48, according to WSF.
For one weekend in late October, all Bainbridge Island and Bremerton sailings will share a single open slip, and weekend sailing schedules for both routes will be adjusted to accommodate the shared slip.
Very few sailings will be canceled, but departure times on sailings throughout the day will shift between 5 and 30 minutes on most sailings to and from Seattle.
The adjusted schedule will be made available in early October, WSF officials said.