If implemented, a reservation system will significantly impact vehicle travel throughout the San Juan Islands, yet information about the proposal has not been shared with the public to date. We are concerned that much planning has already been done with no participation from any of the island communities, each of which has distinct needs and, most importantly, individual ferry terminal configurations and differences in available space for sorting and handling ferry traffic.
There are critical issues that need to be addressed and questions WSF staff needs to answer before moving forward with a vehicle reservation system. The critical issues are common throughout the islands, but the related questions vary from one island to the next. In preparation for the WSF Community Meetings that are scheduled for June 7, we will add a series of three posts over the next few days. Each post will mention a critical issue and a question or two relevant to Lopez Island since that’s where we live. Residents of other islands are encouraged to think about each critical issue and formulate questions appropriate to your island.
Critical Issue–Terminal area space and configuration
Of the five ferry terminals that serve the San Juan Islands, at least three (Anacortes, Shaw, and Lopez) will require extensive retrofitting to accommodate implementation of a reservation system. For example, the Lopez terminal area is very small and constrained. The longest waiting lane (Lane 1) is a County road; the other lanes are waiting lanes for interisland traffic and for emergency medical use. Boats to/from different destinations arrive frequently; it is unlikely that any of the lanes could be used for more than one destination. There does not appear to be sufficient space in the terminal area for processing and sorting cars with reservations. How could this be done without acquiring more land? And, where is there land to acquire? Has a feasibility study been done for implementing reservations at the Lopez terminal area? If so, it should be made available. If not, planning for reservations on Lopez should be suspended until a feasibility study has been completed. Such a study is critical to understanding if reservations are possible to implement in the limited Lopez terminal area.
Please plan to attend one of the June 7 meetings. No matter what the final decision is, each of us will be impacted directly.