News Releases

Nearly $6 million federal award will fund creation of new overhead pedestrian bridge at Colman Dock in Seattle 

Project would decrease traffic congestion, improve safety, and reduce commute times for the largest passenger ferry system in the nation 

Senator Murray wrote a letter to the federal Department of Transportation in support of the grant 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded a nearly $6 million dollar Department of Transportation (DOT) award to the Washington state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to fund the Elevated Pedestrian Connector (EPC) project at Colman Dock in Seattle. The award would fund the creation of an overhead pedestrian bridge to serve foot passengers and improve connections between ferries and land transportation.   

“Ferries are as important to transportation in our state as cars or trains, allowing families and commuters to get to work, school, and go about their day. So I’m thrilled to see federal resources flow to vital projects like the Elevated Pedestrian Connector at Colman Dock that will help reduce congestion, improve connectivity, and ease the commutes and travel of millions of Washingtonians throughout Puget Sound,” said Senator Murray. “I look forward to seeing the final product, and will keep fighting for investments to improve and modernize our critical ferry system.”

The Colman Dock ferry terminal in Seattle was one of the most active in the nation last year, serving 10 million riders including nearly 6 million walk-on passengers and bicyclists. With walk-on ridership expected to increase by more than 50% in the next 20 years, the EPC project will be vital to reducing congestion and expediting ferry transit.

A strong proponent of Washington state’s ferry system, Senator Murray wrote a letter to DOT Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams in support of the EPC project, and has long focused on fully funding ferries, working consistently to secure further federal ferry resources and legislation. Most recently, Senator Murray wrote a letter to her colleagues who lead the Senate committees that propose transportation funding levels, urging them to dramatically increase federal funding for ferries in Washington state and across the country.

For the full letter to the heads of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, see below. 

July 30, 2019

The Honorable John Barrasso                                     The Honorable Thomas R. Carper
Chair                                                                        Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Environment and                       Senate Committee on Environment and
Public Works                                                             Public Works
Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Michael D. Crapo                                The Honorable Sherrod Brown
Chair                                                                       Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing                     Senate Committee on Banking, Housing
and Urban Affairs                                                     and Urban Affairs
Washington, DC 20510                                             Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairs Barrasso and Crapo and Ranking Members Carper and Brown: 

As your committees develop legislation to address our nation’s infrastructure needs through reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, we encourage you to prioritize federal investments and adequate funding levels to reflect the serious needs of our nation’s public ferry systems.

U.S. public ferry systems carry more than 100 million passengers annually throughout 38 states and territories. Across the nation, ferries serve isolated communities and are often the only form of transportation for access to schools, jobs and medical treatment. Additionally, ferries ease traffic congestion, reducing harmful emissions and diminishing wear and tear on our roads and bridges, allowing communities to optimize their infrastructure maintenance dollars. Ferries are also critical to many regions’ ability to respond to natural disasters and emergencies, like when the 9/11 attack disrupted the PATH trains in New York, or when the Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed part of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.   

The FAST Act in 2015 authorized $80 million annually for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHwA’s) ferry formula program and $30 million annually for the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) passenger ferry grant program. While we appreciate this federal investment, current funding levels for our ferry systems are far short of where they need to be to build, repair and modernize aging boats, terminals and related facilities across the nation.  Our ferries have shared information with us about their capital needs, and it’s clear billions of dollars in federal resources are needed to support and improve existing ferry service, establish new ferry service, and help repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals, and related facilities that millions of people around the country depend on.

State and local governments are doing their part by making large investments in public ferry systems, but they are looking to the federal government to be an active partner in helping to address critical capital needs. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to include ample funding in your FAST Act reauthorization bills for public ferry systems around the country through the FHwA and FTA ferry programs.

Thank you for considering our views.