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Sidney Dock getting a new look for spring

By next spring, Port Orchard foot-ferry riders should be walking in style — on a stylish new dock, that is.

In fact, crews in Tacoma are already working on a replacement for the aged Sidney Dock, which is scheduled to be torn down in February.

“They are currently pouring concrete, and once the structure is finished, it will be towed up here, probably the first week of March,” said Wendy Clark-Getson, director of capital for Kitsap Transit, which purchased the dock from Horluck Transportation two years ago.

While the current structure is unsheltered and too steep and slippery for all but the most able-boded passengers, Clark-Getson said the new facility will not only allow everyone easy access to boats and buses, it will be “quite beautiful.”

“It’s so exciting to see that all members of the public can use this dock now,” she said, explaining that the new dock will meet the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) standards.

The project calls for replacing the creosote pilings and crumbling wooden decking with steel supports and molded concrete walking surfaces. A new, prefabricated concrete ferry-access float will connect to the new, shorter dock with a longer gangplank, making it easier to access by wheelchair.

But humans aren’t the only ones who will benefit form the improved dock, because the new elements will reduce environmental impacts on the surrounding marine habitats by reducing shading of the water — an essential element in promoting marine plant growth — and eliminating the toxic creosote pilings.

“It will look so much different,” Clark-Getson said. “People don’t even realize now how much the pier has been shading the inlet.”

Last Friday, Clark-Getson said Kitsap Transit was collecting bids on the final contract it will award to complete the overhaul of the dock, and she hoped that if all goes well, construction will be finished during the “fish window,” which closes March 15.

“If not, we’ll have to wait until July,” she said, adding that she hoped that did not happen, because the revamping project, which “has been desperately needed for many years,” has already been delayed for several years.

Kitsap Transit first started work on an upgrade of the foot ferry terminal in 1997, but the reduction in transportation funds after Initiative 695 passed sunk the organization’s plans and forced it to cancel its design contract with Parametrix, a local consulting firm.

Last year, the project was revived, after Kitsap Transit was awarded a $2 million dollar grant from the Federal Transit Authority. At the time, the agency hoped to begin the project last summer, but Clark-Getson said another in a long line of delays popped up.

“Last summer, federal approval was delayed because there was some concern that the area was a potential Native American cultural site, since it is in such close proximity to City Hall (where remains were found in the past),” she said. “It took us a while to get through the additional process, and by the time it was approved, there was not enough time allowed in the fish window to finish the project.”

While construction is going on, she said Kitsap Transit will use the Port of Bremerton’s guest moorage facilities at the Port Orchard Marina to keep ferry service running.

“The Port has been great to work with, and that is really the best spot for us,” she said, explaining that since the guest moorage area has little shelter now, crews will erect temporary, tent-like structures to protect passengers from wind and rain during construction.

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