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.

Gooseberry Point Dock Moving?

Part of the current Lummi Island Ferry system update planning involves improvements to the Gooseberry Pt dock and waiting facilities. The old, aging dock is likely to be moved north of its current location. At the January 4 PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Commmunity) annual meeting, Roland Middleton from the county will discuss the possibilities. All are welcome.

PLIC meeting, January 4, 2018, 6:30 PM, Beach School, Lummi Island

Official Notice:

PLIC Annual Meeting & Social

January 4, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the Beach School

Guest Speaker: Roland Middleton, Special Program Manger-Whatcom County Public Works Department

Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) is pleased to invite you to attend the PLIC Annual Meeting and Social on January 4, 2018 at 6:30 PM at the Beach School. For over seven years, PLIC has promoted community discussion and consensus on ferry-related issues to insure our community’s vital transportation link. Join us for cake and ice cream to help celebrate a positive new era, as we work towards the relocation of the Gooseberry Ferry Dock and ferry replacement for the Whatcom Chief.

Our guest speaker, Roland Middleton from the Public Works Department will discuss the County’s plans to relocate the aging Gooseberry Ferry Dock and complete needed repairs to the dock. The Gooseberry Ferry Dock is a key component in the development of our new ferry system. Please mark your calendar. Come mingle with your neighbors and learn more about this important topic. Happy holidays!

Stuart Rich- PLIC President

LIFAC Meeting Tuesday, 12/5/2017

Tonight, 6:30, Fire Hall. (Agenda below)  Rich Hudson, Senior Ferry Master, will report on ferry operations and maintenance plans. Main focus of meeting is progress update on ferry system improvement project, including more ridership data and islander input from November 2017 PLIC meeting.

December 5, 2017, starting at 6:30 p.m.
At the Lummi Island Fire Hall, 3809 Legoe Bay Road, Lummi Island, WA

During open session attendees can speak on any topic. Each speaker will state his or her name for the record and will have three (3) minutes to address the Committee. The Committee requests that individuals intending to speak during public comments please submit the comments in writing for a compilation of public records.
11/7/17 regular meeting
1. Update from Richard Hudson, Senior Master of the Whatcom Chief
1.1. Operations
1.2. Update on dock repairs and plans
2. Update on Ferry System Improvement Project (Middleton)
3. Discussion of 11/16/17 public meeting participation and questionnaire
4. Update on consulting work (KPFF Project Manager Cassandra
4.1. Current project status
4.2. Review of task summaries to date
4.3. Input from community questionnaires
5. Traffic data status (Skehan and Bailey)
6. Draft of letter to State Representatives about proposed ferry district
1. Skagit ferry design concepts public meeting on Guemes Island (Bailey)
2. Discussion of possible Ferry System Improvement Project phases (Ging)

Ferry Communications Done Well

Skagit County is further along than Whatcom in replacing its ferry to Guemes Island. They do a good job at communications, so important in bringing such big projects to a successful conclusion. Here’s their latest email (Nov 20, 2017) on their ferry replacement project. It includes a short, concise survey for ferry users re: the ferry, use, replacement and costs. Email Rachel Rowe (address at end) if you want to receive their messages.Read More »

Lots of Truck Weight Restrictions during 2017 Low Tides

The list of these restrictions, which prohibit trucks of greater than 40k pounds Gross Vehicle (GVW) during minus low tides, are relevant to those wanting to haul or have hauled gravel, soil, concrete, construction and other heavy loads during 2017.  At other times, the maximum GVW is 50,000 lb.

How tide restrictions work: The crew is, and always has been, rigid in enforcing the county engineer’s requirements regarding weight. Any vehicle weighing more than 40,000 pounds is required to have a weight slip and may board with the captain’s permission. Nothing is allowed over 50,000 pounds, and the maximum limit during periods of minus tides is 40,000. The crew regularly turn trucks away from uninformed haulers that are overweight or haven’t obtained a weight slip.

Companies or contractors who regularly bring heavy trucks across know about this process. However, any islander who’s expecting a heavy load delivery should make sure that the trucking company knows they need a weight slip if the total GVW greater than 40,000 lbs during times of low tide restrictions.

The restrictions protect the aging Gooseberry Pt and Lummi dock ramps.  The same load and minus tide restrictions have been in place since the mid 1990s. It seems ironic, given how little attention islanders in general pay attention to the aging of the docks vs the Whatcom Chief, that the docks may be more of a limiting factor in ferry service in the years ahead than the vessel.