A Compelling Case for a 24 Car Ferry?

Rich Frye, a Lummi Islander with an economics background, has submitted to LIFAC the Case for a 24-car Ferry 052118 a short (2 page) data-based analysis concluding that a 24 car ferry would be the best option to replace the Whatcom Chief. Whatcom County’s consultants (KPFF) apparently will recommend to LIFAC a choice between two ferry sizes: a 20-car ferry (just a bit larger than the Whatcom Chief, unable to handle any increase in vehicle traffic) and a 34 car ferry that should handle projected vehicle traffic through 2060.  KPFF has considered but will argue against a 28 car vessel, which they think would only be ‘marginally’ better than a 20 car ferry.  Frye’s analysis indicates that a 24-car ferry would provide an intermediate-sized option that is preferable in cost and function to a 20-car, 28-car or 34-car sized vessel.

Fairhaven or Bellingham instead of Gooseberry Docking for Lummi Island Ferry?

The idea that Whatcom County’s Lummi Island Ferry should have its mainland dock at Fairhaven or Bellingham, not Gooseberry Point, is raised every few years, most often by newcomers to the island or to ferry issues. Docking at Gooseberry Point is the option that County and most islanders have identified as the most feasible and cost effective choice. There are sound reasons for that choice, based on a factual analysis of multiple factors described in this report, which was researched and authored primarily by Charles (Chuck) Antholt, a Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) member. The report was approved and published in 2016 by LIFAC.

(Note: While LIFAC’s county website includes this document, it is a bit hard to find there so is also on the Whatcom Ferry Documents Archive, an islander initiated and maintained database that was started because the County often discards documents after seven years. The Archive prevents loss of important historical information about the Lummi Island ferry and related issues.)

Official DRAFT Lummi Ferry System Improvement Documents

Links to these current draft (i.e., may be changed) documents are now available to read and comment on, by anyone who wishes to learn more about the *current* (not final!) preliminary information available from the County’s consultants (KPFF). KPFF was hired to analyze ferry level of service, consider options and estimate potential costs, pros and cons, for consideration by the community. Ultimately, the County Council will decide which if any option to pursue further.  Please note that older unofficial, even more preliminary draft version/versions were circulated on a social media site without LIFAC approval. Directing comments to the drafts below will avoid needless confusion.

From: Nancy Ging <lifac.nancy@gmail.com>
Sent: May 1, 2018 6:33 PM
To: LIFAC Announcements <lifac-announce@googlegroups.com>, ferryproject@googlegroups.com
Subject: [LIFAC Announcements] Ferry Consulting Documents Available

At our work session last Thursday (4/26/18), the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) voted unanimously to publish preliminary DRAFT consulting documents we have received from KPFF Group to our County website. Council staff finished that today, and you can now download and view the documents from the official LIFAC webpage: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/521/Lummi-Island-Ferry-Advisory-Committee Please note that these are DRAFT documents and are subject to change. Also, these documents are intended to be appendices attached to the final consulting report. For example, several of them contain portions of cost information. The final document (not yet available) will pull all the appendices together into overall option summaries and KPFF’s final recommendations. If you feel anything is missing, in error, or you have an opinion you want to be considered before the documents are finalized, please send feedback as soon as possible in one of the following ways: 1. Send your comments in an email to: lummiferry@googlegroups.com 2. Come to one of LIFAC’s meeting and speak during the public comment time. You can speak for up to three minutes, but you also can submit as much written information as you would like. It makes things a lot easier if you can bring your verbal comments in written form as well so we can attach them to our minutes. Meeting schedules for the next couple of months are available on our website. 3. Give your written comments to any LIFAC member. Current members include: Charles Bailey Rhayma Blake Cris Colburn (Bellingham) Jim Dickinson Pat Dunn Nancy Ging On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, KPFF will make their final presentation at a public meeting at Beach School (Centerview and N. Nugent, Lummi Island). This will be the LAST OPPORTUNITY to directly ask these experts questions about the options they recommend. Public comments, however, will be accepted by LIFAC until JUNE 25, 2018. Additional documents and revisions will be made available as they are received. Watch for public announcements from LIFAC. The website link above is your best source for the most current and accurate versions of the documents as we move forward. Our meeting schedule for the next couple of months is also posted there. Thank you for your interest! We look forward to your continuing participation. Nancy Ging LIFAC Chair

To contact LIFAC, send message to: lummiferry@googlegroups.com</lifac-announce@googlegroups.com></lifac.nancy@gmail.com>

May-July Ferry 2018 Planning Events

Important upcoming events, from Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (posted April 27, 2018)
As the County’s consultants, KPFF Group, begin to finalize their report in the coming few months regarding the Ferry System Improvement Project, LIFAC last night adopted the following schedule for our meetings and other events and deadlines between now and July:

Wednesday, 5/9/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

Tuesday, 5/22/18 6:30 pm at Beach School, Lummi Island: Public Meeting with Consultants

Wednesday, 5/23/18 Final questionnaire will be launched (not a meeting, watch for public announcements and posters for details)

Sunday, 6/10/18 Final questionnaire will be closed (not a meeting)

Wednesday, 6/13/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

Sunday, 6/25/18 ***Deadline for submitting written comments to LIFAC or Public Works about consulting recommendations

Tuesday, 6/26/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Special Meeting to determine final recommendations to present to County Council

Wednesday, 7/11/18 6:30 pm LIFAC Regular Meeting

This replaces any earlier meeting announcements.

This will be the culmination of several years of the Level of Service portion of this planning process. Once the recommendations for Level of Service and the priorities for possible ferry system improvements are determined, the plan is to present it to Whatcom County Council for adoption at their meeting on July 24, 2018. If successful, the County would then begin seeking funding for the Design portion of the project. Keep in mind that even if funding was obtained tomorrow, it will take some years before a new vessel or dock improvements can actually be put in service. Estimated schedules for the rest of the work are also part of the consulting reports.

LIFAC meetings are always open to the public and a portion of every meeting is devoted to receiving public comments. If you would like to see how plans have been shaping up, now is the time to come and participate. Completing our final questionnaire between 5/23 and 6/10 will also be an important part of the process.

Also, draft documents will be posted to the County’s LIFAC web page as they are received by LIFAC from the consultants for you to download and read. The first documents should be online early next week. Please note that these are DRAFT documents–NOT final–and are subject to change (based on public comments received) until comments are closed on June 25. Fact Sheets, contact information, and other relevant information are also available on the website. Here is a link to the LIFAC site:

Please watch the TOME, Brown Betty, Nextdoor, and our email announcement list for more details and venues before each meeting. We’ll also be hanging posters for some of these events.

LIFAC deeply appreciates the positive community support and participation received to date, and we look forward to your continuing help reaching final recommendations that will assure the ferry future for all of us.

Thank you for your interest,
Nancy Ging

Lummi Ferry Dock Location Options at Gooseberry Point

Three options for improving Lummi Island ferry terminal facilities at Gooseberry Point are being considered as part of the County’s ferry system improvement project. Each option has substantial long-term financial, operational and other pros and cons. This paper by Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) summarizes some key aspects of these ferry terminal options.

The process for moving forward is for LIFAC, assisted by Public Works, citizens impacted by these options and the County’s consultants who are assisting with this project, to continue gathering and discussing pros and cons via meetings, an upcoming survey and comments submitted by individuals and groups. After analysis of all information, LIFAC will submit a recommendation (note: LIFAC decides nothing; it is just an advisory committee) along with all Consultant reports to the County Council. The County Council is the ‘decider’ on a preferred docking option, as well as replacement ferry.

Right-sizing Lummi Island Ferry – Demand and Capacity

A choice must be made about the size of the replacement Lummi Island ferry. PLIC-White-Paper-3-Demand-and-Capacity-Options- summarizes the planning consultants’ estimated demand for vehicle transport in the decades ahead, especially during ‘peak normal use’, generally commuting periods. It also describes how three larger ferries might accommodate that vehicle traffic.  All three ferries could be operated with 3 crew members (larger vessels would require adding a 4th crew member, thereby increasing labor costs by 30%).  There are trade-offs among these options on capital and operational costs, as well as on vehicle wait times when vehicle traffic is heavy.

Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Meeting 4-11-2018

2018-04-11-LIFAC-agenda, including time and location

Every month, the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC, a county-appointed members from both on and off island) meets to discuss issues related to the Lummi Island Ferry. These meetings are open to all and include a period at the beginning for 3-minute comments by attendees. Meetings are usually held at the Fire Hall on Lummi Island and once a quarter in Bellingham at the Whatcom Public Works building.

The Lummi Island Ferry System is part of Whatcom County’s road and transportation system, administered by Public Works. Operations are paid for partly by ferry user fees, county road taxes, some state funds, occasional grants.

Ferry System Upgrade – Population Projections

Estimating Lummi Island’s population growth over the next few decades is an important part of planning to replace the Whatcom Chief with an appropriately sized vessel, which will have a life span of at least 60 years. (Whether anyone thinks the population “should” grow, shrink or stay the same is irrelevant. There are many empty lots that owners have every legal right to build on – whether to live in full or part time, or rent out short or long term, or ‘just for the investment.’).

PLIC-White-Paper-2-Population-Projections (from Protect Lummi Island Community) briefly summarizes the planning consultant’s best guesses about how the population will change. These predictions are part of what’s needed to decide how to ‘right size’ the new vessel, though other factors also are important.

Ferry System Improvement History 2018

This short document by Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC; volunteer island group) describes some of the decade+ history behind the current essential planning to replace the old Whatcom Chief and the dock at Gooseberry Pt, both parts of Whatcom County’s transportation/road system. PLIC-White-Paper-1-Ferry-Replacement-Background. It’s an excellent reminder for those who’ve been around a while, essential reading for island newcomers and all County residents who generally know very little, if anything, about this 100-year part of the County’s transportation system.

Update on 2018 Plan to replace Chief, Gooseberry Dock

More on the upcoming recommendations on Whatcom County’s planning to replace the Gooseberry Pt Dock and Whatcom Chief. Important stuff. If you want to have input, the next 3 months are crucial. Stu Rich, President of Protect Lummi Island Community, just sent out this summary.
Date: Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 12:23 PM
Subject: PLIC – Stuart Rich- President letter on 3/14/18 Ferry Meeting
To: PLICEBlast

PLIC- Stuart Rich-President

The ferry consultant, KPFF Consulting, and Whatcom County Public Works have laid out their options for a ferry replacement boat (20, 28 or 34 car capacity vessel) and the future Gooseberry ferry terminal location (1.the present location, 2. move north to convenience store location, or 3. purchase up to 8 private homes). Now it’s up to us to decide what is in the best interest of Lummi Island and chose a ferry replacement system that will serve our future needs through the year 2060.

Let’s start with a priority decision- location of the Gooseberry terminal. Staying at the present location is not viable. Lummi Nation has served us due notice that there will be no renewal of the present-day lease. The second option of the convenience store location would mean the continuation of expensive upland and tideland leases with the Lummi Nation which would continue to impact operational costs and fares. The third option of purchasing private homes coupled with a tradeoff – changing the county- right-of- way to accommodate the proposed Lummi Nation marina in exchange for the Nation’s support for a federal right-of-way over the tidal water dock area – would forever eliminate the need for lease payments to the Lummi Nation. This option is cost effective and provides a permanent solution
Choosing a long-term replacement boat is a complex process which is directly tied to the level of service (LOS), operational costs and fares, as well as the future growth of Lummi Island. How big of a boat do we need? After examining several studies, KPFF has pegged Lummi Island’s annual growth rate for pedestrian/passenger ridership at 1.54% and vehicle ridership at 0.76 percent through the year 2040. After factoring in current peak ferry usage, the consultants have projected a low- middle- and high range for the required boat capacity through the year 2060.