Berkeley Pier Chosen As New Transbay Ferry Site

Photo: The Berkeley Pier has been chosen as the site for a new transbay ferry terminal.  The news route will take passengers from Berkeley to San Francisco.
Victoria Chow/Staff
The Berkeley Pier has been chosen as the site for a new transbay ferry terminal. The news route will take passengers from Berkeley to San Francisco.

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After years of discussion, a regional agency chose the Berkeley Pier on Thursday as the preferred site for a transbay ferry terminal.

The Trustees of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority chose the pier over the Berkeley Marina and two Albany sites, according to Shirley Douglas, the agency's community relations manager.

The ferry, which would travel between Berkeley and San Francisco, was proposed in 2003 to reduce commuter traffic on the Bay Bridge and congestion on BART, Douglas said.

"(The ferry is) an attractive, stress-free alternative where you are guaranteed a seat, can plug in a laptop, eat in the morning, socialize and have drinks in the evening," she said.

Douglas said the agency would draw on state and federal funds to cover the expected $26 million in construction costs. The site will undergo further evaluation before receiving permits to move forward with construction.

Douglas said the decision was based on a two-year environmental assessment of the four locations as well as the pier's proximity to San Francisco.

But Jim McGrath, a member of Berkeley's Waterfront Commission, said the ferry would limit parking for windsurfers, fisherman and other regular recreational visitors.

"They have failed to realize that people come to the marina for all kinds of reasons and we have to be able add new users without displacing existing ones," McGrath said.

Douglas said the agency plans to work with AC Transit to encourage ferry riders to travel by bus to the terminal to avoid congestion problems.

Construction on the terminal is slated to begin in 2012.


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