KH Designs New Sausalito ferry dock / by Elaine Chan

Marin Independent Journal

Work on an $11.5 million revamp of the Sausalito ferry dock that will improve accessibility for bikes and people with disabilities could begin in late 2015.

The Sausalito ferry landing is more than 40 years old and Golden Gate Ferry officials say it's time for an upgrade. The new passenger boarding system will include new ramps, ferry slips and other terminal improvements, all of which will be designed to improve accessibility, officials say.

"What you will see is a float that is much wider with a flatter slope," said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge district, which operates ferry service and manages the dock.

Bicyclists board a ferry bound for San Francisco at the Sausalito Ferry Terminal in Sausalito, Calif. on Friday, July 12, 2013. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal) Alan Dep

That wider entry to the ferries will make it easier for those with bikes to get on and off the boats. Sausalito sees thousands of bikes come over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the city during tourist season. Those bikes can jam the boarding process and the wider float will provide more space.

When the bicyclists depart in San Francisco, they have to haul bikes up the ferry stairs to leave via the upper deck, the only access point at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. That has caused delays but will be addressed with work at the San Francisco ferry terminal in the future. Plans are also in the works for upgrades to the bridge district's Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

The slope of the Sausalito gangway also will be flatter, making it easier for the elderly and those with disabilities to maneuver onto the vessels, especially when the tide changes, making inclines steeper.



"It's relatively accessible now, but it doesn't meet present (American with Disabilities Act) standards," said Richard Skaff, accessibility advocate, of the Sausalito facility. "The district has supported accessibility and it looks like they are doing the right thing here." The boarding facility will increase from 8,000 square feet to about 13,650 square feet and the new gangway will be fitted with translucent decking material to allow light to penetrate through the decking to the water. Twenty five piles will be removed during demolition and 22 new piles will be installed, according to the district. The new dock also will be able to accommodate two ferries at once. The Blue & Gold Fleet also uses the facility. The work would take about six months to complete and a temporary dock would be built in the interim.

Eighty percent of the project will be funded by federal dollars, 20 percent by district dollars. The district will seek approval for the project from the Bay Conservation Development Commission in September. That agency regulates waterfront development.

Last week the district board approved $100,000 in environmental mitigation money because the new Sausalito facility will be larger in size. The money will go toward the state Coastal Conservancy's San Francisco Bay Living Shoreline Project in San Rafael Bay near Starkweather Park where Olympia oysters are being grown to help the environment. The oysters — once plentiful and now sparse — act as a water purifier, as well as habitat and food for a variety of fish species.

- Mark Prado