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Officials showcase proposed Richmond commuter ferry

on June 22, 2012

A potential commuter ferry from Richmond to the San Francisco Ferry Building could be in the works as soon as 2015. Marina Bay residents, and city officials gathered for a meeting at the Harbormaster Room at the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor on Thursday to view a presentation on the potential ferry terminal.

“The ferry would start as a commute-only service and could potentially include weekends depending on the demand,” said Chad Mason, a transportation analyst for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority. “Right now, are ridership is projected for between 1,100 to 1,700 passengers daily.”

Mason says the proposed ferry would cost between $6 and $8 each way and be able to transport 300 people at a time for a 35 minute ride. The Richmond terminal would be located at the southern point of the Ford Peninsula near the Craneway Pavilion. Residents also would have access to extended parking by the Port of Richmond and could visit the Boiler Room Restaurant located on the southeast side of the Craneway Pavilion.

Mason’s presentation included several blueprints for the ferry terminal which would be largely funded by $22 million from Measure J, a Contra Costa County sales tax measure approved by voters in 2004 to be used for transportation. The terminal’s design includes building new passenger waiting areas, a new gangway and access gate to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the removal of the existing wooden float ramping system and piles. The majority of construction would be done offsite and assembled at the terminal to cut costs according to Mason.

The decision to build the terminal will require multiple agency approvals from with environmental engineers in WETA, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, as well as from officials with the city of Richmond. Mason says the environmental approval is currently underway and should be completed in 6-9 months.

During Thursday’s presentation, Virginia Finlay, president of the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council, voiced concerns about the length of commuters’ walk from the parking lot to the ferry. “I think the proposal is a good idea, but when there’s bad weather, people won’t want to make that walk,” said Finlay.

Other residents like Brandon Rochon were concerned about the terminal providing bicycle parking. “It would be great if bikes are included in the plans,” said Rochon. “Riders would be able to park and hop right on the ferry.”

“We’re having these meetings to let taxpayers know what the plans and take all your concerns into consideration,” said Mason. “The environmental review for the project should take six to nine months, followed by about 18 months of final design and construction. Our completion date should be by 2015.”

Maps and documents detailing the proposed ferry terminal are available on the WETA’s website.

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