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Parking area will become plaza

This spring, Port Orchard foot ferry passengers will not only have a new walkway and terminal at their disposal, but downtown library patrons and those simply passing by will have a new spot to pause and enjoy the waterfront.

Wendy Clark-Getzin, director of capital for Kitsap Transit, said while work on the new foot-ferry terminal and gangway is nearly complete, her agency is preparing to begin one last project to turn the small area in front of the Port Orchard Library into a place to park people, rather than cars.

“We’re collecting one last construction bid to pour a concrete pad in front of the library and open up (the mural for viewing),” Clark-Getzin said.

She said soon a plaza featuring planters and benches will be added to prevent vehicles from using the area, and also the nearby sidewalks that were recently torn up will be repaired.

“We thought at first we didn’t have enough money for this work, but we found a little bit of funding from the state and decided to move forward,” she said. The lot is not actually library property, she said, but owned by Kitsap Transit. When complete, the plaza will serve as an extension of the passenger transfer center.

In the meantime, work on the terminal and new passenger area is progressing nicely after meeting crucial deadlines, and Clark-Getzin said she hopes to have it open for use the last week of April.

She said passengers may notice the roof on the new terminal is different from what was originally planned because it does not extend over the entire platform area and offer protection from the weather.

“We deferred the most expensive piece for future funding,” she said, explaining that a less expensive roof was installed instead to ensure the project remained on budget.

For now, passengers will be instructed to form a line while still inside the gangway during rainy periods, since it offers ample protection.

Currently, foot-ferry passengers are using the guest moorage at the Port Orchard Marina to get on and off the Kitsap Ferry Co. boats crossing Sinclair Inlet.

Kitsap Transit first started planning 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.

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