Photo contest, ribbon-cutting mark end of Steilacoom ferry terminal renovation

Pierce County officials are preparing to mark the completion of a major renovation of the Steilacoom ferry terminal by holding a series of public events through the end of this month.

The terminal was last renovated in 1986. Over the last several years, the building encountered increased maintenance, repairs and energy costs. Operations staff has shared a cramped office space with limited storage. The county conducted a survey in early 2010 to establish a priority list of the ferry patrons’ needed and desired terminal improvements. According to Pierce County officials, ferry riders emphasized the need to update the restrooms and modernize the terminal.

The Steilacoom ferry terminal closed on Jan. 3 for a remodel that included a renovation of the restrooms, updated interior finishes, new windows, new waiting room furniture, more efficient office space, Wi-Fi access and upgrades to the ticketing system, updates to the exterior column finishes and railings, and new energy efficient windows. The renovation also aimed to improve energy efficiency to meet the 2009 Energy Code adopted by Washington State earlier this year. Bids opened on Nov. 10 and the project was awarded to Westcoast Contracting. Merritt Arch PLLC was the architect for the project, which cost approximately $470,000 and was funded by the Facility Preservation Fund, which is made up of funds set aside annually in the Ferry budget for preserving facilities.  A 2010 survey of ferry patrons helped create a mutual vision of the completed facility. The town of Steilacoom helped Pierce County Public Works and Utilities develop a plan that complies with the community’s historical preservation guidelines.

Ferry passengers have purchased tickets at a temporary ticketing facility on-site while renovations were under way. A portable restroom and a temporary covered waiting area were also made available to passengers.

“I think our ferry patrons will be pleased with the results and enjoy spending time there,” said Deb Wallace, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator. “We appreciate their patience and support during the remodel.”

The terminal will re-open Tues., May 22. Riders are encouraged to be extra cautious on the ferry landing early next week as workers remove the temporary ticketing facilities.

“Our goal was to make the building comfortable and serviceable,” Wallace said. “The upgrades were made to last and to expand the lifetime of the building. We focused on energy efficiency, and gave special consideration to using materials that are sustainable, durable and affordable.”

The Pierce County Ferry System, which is operated by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, provides service between the town of Steilacoom, Anderson Island and Ketron Island.

To celebrate the terminal’s opening and National Public Works Week, Pierce County officials have invited amateur photographers of all ages to submit photos related to the Pierce County ferry system. To participate, “like” Public Works and Utilities’ Facebook page, upload your favorite photo with a short description, and get permission from anyone appearing in the photograph. The contest deadline is 11 p.m. on Thurs., May 24. Espresso By the Bay in Steilacoom will provide a $25 gift certificate for the first place winner, and two $10 gift certificates for the second and third place winners. Winners will be announced before May 30.

Additionally, Pierce County officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Weds., May 30 at 3 p.m. to celebrate the terminal’s re-opening. The terminal is located at 56 Union Avenue. Winners of the amateur photo contest will be announced during the ceremony and their photos will be on display.

Also upcoming is a public meeting to discuss potential improvements to the ferry loading lanes at the Steilacoom ferry terminal during a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tues., May 22 at Steilacoom Town Hall, 1717 Lafayette St. in Steilacoom. Public comments are welcome. There are three loading lanes along Union Avenue. Potential improvements to the lanes include adding a ticket booth in between the loading lanes, installing raised crosswalks, and increasing lane capacity by closing Lafayette Street west of Union Avenue. The Public Works and Utilities Airport and Ferry Division is in the process of reviewing potential improvements at this site. A final proposal, timeline and funding will be identified later.

More information about the system is available online at

Pierce County officials are preparing to mark the completion of a major renovation of the Steilacoom ferry terminal by holding a series of public events through the end of this month. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)