Boarding to speed up for Sausalito-SF ferry ride after key approval

Ferries whisking passengers between Sausalito and San Francisco may soon board far quicker.

The long-delayed reconstruction of the $11 million Sausalito Ferry Terminal is moving forward after a vote to approve its construction Thursday.

Though the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District committee’s vote is just the first approval, requiring full board approval today, the resolution of the more than five-year saga to help ferry riders to San Francisco shores was lauded as a major milestone.

The path was first cleared Oct. 10 after the Sausalito City Council voted to “stay” on litigation against the bridge district over the terminal.

Sausalito filed litigation in September 2016, creating a barrier in revamping the ferry terminal. With litigation officially stayed, the Golden Gate District on Thursday approved the project to move forward.

“We’re really pleased,” said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the bridge district. “We’ll get vessels in and out quicker, and the facility will meet current accessibility standards.”

Some compromises for Sausalito critics were made along the way. The bridge district initially planned a 12-foot-tall, blue arching rail along the gangway passengers would walk down to board. Now, there will be a 6-foot-tall gangway.

The original plan also would have widened the gangway to 21 feet, but was revised to 12 feet. Right now, it’s 5 feet 9 inches wide, leading to cramped conditions and slower boarding. Benches and an emergency generator were removed from the original plan as well. As the San Francisco Examiner previously reported, project redesigns ballooned the project’s budget by $3 million.

At the Oct. 10 Sausalito City Council meeting, citizens vented their frustrations with the project.

“We’re trying to protect our experience at the club … to safeguard it from damage of ferry operations,” Nick Sands, director of the Sausalito Yacht Club executive board, told City Council members that night.

But Alice Merrill, a member of the yacht club, said, “I think we have to proceed … I’m one constituent that thinks the ferry [terminal] should go in.”

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