Edmonds Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

New ferry terminal project delayed yet again


August 15, 2018

The current ferry terminal on a warm summer day. The new terminal has been delayed roughly six months due to bids coming in over budget.

Those waiting for the new ferry terminal in Mukilteo are going to have to wait even longer.

According to Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling, the project recently received five bids for the construction of terminal buildings and other key components of the project.

Sterling said all five of the bids came in well over the estimated budget created by their team of engineers. The five contractors were notified Tuesday, Aug. 7, that their bids were declined.

“The lowest bid came in about $8 million over our internal estimate,” Sterling said. “The next closest was about $18 million over.”

According to Sterling, the internal “engineers’ estimate” for the project was roughly $65 million. A key reason for the high bids is an increase in the cost of steel due to tariffs implemented by the Trump administration.

“Steel prices are rapidly rising,” Sterling said. “That’s the primary reason (the bids were over budget), but there are other reasons as well.”

State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, a member of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said he was disappointed to see the delay in the project.

“It’s unfortunate that with the red-hot construction in the region and steel prices rising due to the Trump administration’s anti-trade policies, our project is suffering with increasing costs,” Liias said. “I’m committed to making sure Washington State Ferries examines every opportunity to reduce costs and will work to ensure they have the resources to finish the project.”

For now, WSF and WSDOT will have to go back to the drawing board to find other ways to help reduce costs.

“We can’t make too many changes due to things like permitting,” Sterling said. “But scheduling, sequencing – what saving can be done? Were we too aggressive?”

The goal is to look for more bids in the fall, Sterling said, which would cause another major delay in the terminal’s opening.

“Opening of the terminal will be pushed back at least six months to fall of 2020 rather than what had been our most recent estimate of spring of 2020,” he said.

The terminal had initially been slated to open in December 2019 before other snags pushed it back a few months into 2020, with final completion in spring of 2021.

An email obtained by The Beacon from John Vezina, Director Of Government Relations for Washington State Ferries, said they hope to issue their new bid package in early October with bid openings possible in late November.

The new terminal will be one-third of a mile east of the existing terminal, and will have new buildings, toll booths, and more.

The Mukilteo/Clinton route has more than 4 million passengers each year, and ferries more vehicles than any other in the state.

The project has received $167 million in federal and state funding.

Despite the delay, Sterling said it’s a blessing that the current terminal is still accessible.

“We’re lucky that Mukilteo has an existing terminal that will continue to serve passengers during construction of the new facility,” he said.

For more information on the project, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Ferries/mukilteoterminal/multimodal/default.htm.


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