Upgrades Coming to Main Street Ferry Terminal

Long-term plans include ‘Estuary Park’

Ferry Terminal plans

Ferry commuters driving to the Main Street Ferry Terminal will find a new parking lot option this fall, pending timely work plan approvals by the city.

Since 2013, passenger boardings have increased by more than 50 percent at the Main Street ferry terminal, far exceeding the capacity of the parking lot. Commuters have been filling up an adjacent unpaved parcel next to the dog park, as well as the shoulders of Main Street.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) initiated a ferry terminal access study for the Main Street and Harbor Bay terminals in 2014. They have been discussing access improvements with city staff, the Transportation Commission, and the community.

As a result of the dialogue, the city has offered the use of the nearby O’ Club parking lot, across Main Street from the terminal, to WETA through a license agreement. The lot is currently used to park city vehicles.

At its June 4 meeting, WETA’s board of directors approved spending $250,000 to make improvements, in exchange for free use of the lot. WETA will resurface and stripe the lot, construct ADA-compliant walkways that lead to a new crosswalk that WETA will also construct across Main Street.

The crosswalk will connect with an existing paved pathway on the western end of the main parking lot. An existing vehicle entryway on Main Street will become the entrance to the O’ Club lot.

Estuary Park plans

"In terms of the mid-term improvements at Main Street, the city has let us know that the dog park cannot be converted to parking until a replacement at Estuary Park is open," said Kevin Connolly, WETA’s planning and development manager.

The new home for the dog park at Estuary Park on Mosley Avenue between Singleton Avenue and Alameda Landing is tied to the availability of funds for the second phase of the park. Those funds will be secured through a combination of developer fees and grants.

The first phase, four acres of sports fields, is expected to begin in 2016. The four acres of the second phase is designed as a community park space with restrooms, playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball courts, open lawn, and a dog park with sections for big dogs and small dogs.

WETA was working with AC Transit to re-introduce bus service to the terminal. However, Connolly said that AC Transit recently scuttled plans for a Line 50 that would have carried passengers in a loop around the Island City to the Main Street ferry terminal. The city learned of this last Wednesday. In explaining its decision, the bus company told Connolly that when it ran buses to the ferry terminal in 2009 "nobody rode them."

Connolly points out that in 2009 the ferry carried 350 passengers a day with hourly departures.

Today the ferry provides service to some 1,800 passengers with departures every 30 minutes. AC Transit also told Connolly that the bus service was not feasible because WETA does not charge for parking. Connolly questioned that criterion, pointing out that South Shore Center and other shopping malls do not charge for parking and AC Transit serves South Shore Center and these other malls.

"WETA is disappointed that AC Transit cannot see that demand warrants local bus service at the Main Street terminal," Connolly said. He added that AC Transit’s proposal would have offered ferry riders more choice in how they get to the terminal.

With parking relief in the pipeline, WETA plans to focus on more non-auto options for getting riders to and from the ferry terminal. "The implementation of an overflow parking lot, in addition to future improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, are vitally important in terms of WETA’s ability to continue accommodating future ridership demand at the Main Street ferry terminal," said Nina Rannells, WETA’s executive director, in a June 4 staff report.

Richard Bangert hosts the online blog Alameda Point Environmental Report. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AlamedaPtEnviro.