Park and ride progresses

Construction of the Orcas Ferry Landing Park and Ride is nearing its completion. The hillside conversion was proposed to take 83 workdays to create and is approximately 75 percent of the way through that timeframe. Though the project ran into some delays early on, it should be smooth sailing from here on out and completed by early August.

“The biggest delay was getting the lease from the state,” said San Juan County Councilman Rick Hughes. The county signed a 25-year lease with the Washington State Department of Transportation, allowing the usage of a 5.32-acre property on which the park and ride will be built. The lease can then be renewed twice for 10-year periods. The state was only willing to allow the lease of the land free of charge as long as there is no charge for parking.

Another problem that popped up was that when construction began two different water systems were discovered and an easement had to be established for both.

WSDOT granted the county a $750,000 grant to construct the park and ride. The county also allocated $710,000 toward the project. The purpose of the park and ride is to move parking on Orcas Road to a new designated parking lot. Phase one will consist of relocating Orcas Hill Road and building the parking lot. During phase two, the intersection of Orcas Road and Orcas Hill Road will be updated with turn lanes. The final phase of construction will be to end Orcas Hill Road at the ferry holding lines.

Washington State Ferries held the grand opening of its newly opened terminal on Tuesday, July 11. WSF Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton was present at the event and joined San Juan County Councilman Rick Hughes in the ceremonious ribbon cutting.

Following the event at the new terminal, WSF staff was lead up the hill to tour the progress at the park and ride.

“It’s like a big chess match,” said Hughes of the several projects being done to beautify the Orcas Ferry Landing. “We really wanted to do this right.”