Berkeley Marina May Become Stop on San Francisco Ferry Line

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Correction Appended

Berkeley residents may soon have another public transportation option to reach San Francisco in 22 minutes.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority plans to use state and local revenue from Bay Bridge tolls to build a ferry stop on Seawall Drive at the Berkeley Marina.

According to Leamon Abrams, community relations manager for WETA, the ferry will carry 1,716 riders each day between Berkeley and San Francisco by 2025.

"This project will cost (about) $50 million," he said. "This is a significant financial investment in the marina."

The estimated $57 million project cost includes $34 million for terminal construction and $23 million for two 25-knot, 199-passenger ferries.

The project is marketed as an alternative mode of evacuation if a disaster compromises highway and bridge travel.

But Gene Poschman of the city of Berkeley Planning Commission said renovating the Bay Bridge will make the ferry obsolete for evacuations.

"We are strengthening the Bay Bridge to an amazing earthquake resistance, but this ferry is supposedly for emergency situations in case the bridge collapses," Poschman said. "It's a 'have the money, have to spend it' situation."

However, Abrams contended the ferry will help combat Bay Area traffic congestion, but Poschman worries that ferry service may rob BART and AC Transit of much-needed patronage.

"AC Transit is cutting back, and the notion of hundreds of people taking AC Transit to get down to the ferry is nonsensical," Poschman said.

Though WETA chose the Seawall Drive location in part because it is serviced by the 51 bus line, the terminal plan includes a parking lot to accommodate 387 vehicles in a scenic park.

Abrams said the project's planners have taken into account the impact of the ferry terminal on Bay Trail hikers, park patrons and recreational users of the marina.

Berkeley's Waterfront Commission passed a resolution last week expressing support for the terminal project, provided that parking and environmental costs are taken into account.

WETA plans to complete environmental impact assessments and receive approval from the city of Berkeley and the Federal Transit Administration by early 2010. The ferry service could become a reality by next year.


Correction: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
An earlier version of this article stated that WETA plans to use federal revenue from Bay Bridge tolls to build the new ferry stop. In fact, the authority will use state and local revenue from the tolls. An earlier version of this article also stated that the ferry will carry 1,716 riders each day between Berkeley and San Francisco by 2015. In fact, it will reach this capacity by 2025.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Heather Ross at [email protected]

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