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Ferry Terminal Set to Open
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You Can Call Me Al
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San Francisco Ferry Terminal Readied for September Opening

Alameda-Oakland Riders First to Shift to Splendid New Facility July 2

The Vallejo Ferry approaches one of the new Ferry Terminal Gates being readied for opening.

Bay Crossings spent a glorious May afternoon with Nieret "Nita" Mizushima, newly appointed Chief Harbor Engineer for the Port of San Francisco while Nita gave us an update on the construction of the new San Francisco Ferry Terminal.

This project started back in February of 2000, so we are into month fifteen of this project. The base structure is complete but is still awaiting the remaining aesthetic architectural improvements.

The East Promenade is essentially a deck structure on the east side of the Ferry Building, which once complete, will allow the public access along the entire Ferry Building length between the North Terminal to the Ferry Plaza. Commuters, the general public, will be able to walk along the entire waterfront on the water side of the Ferry Building. Before, a boiler room blocked access, making folks have to double back and go around the Embarcadero side of the building. No more of that frustration.

We’ve been doing structural improvements as well. The marginal wharf, which is the structure between the old seawall and the waters’ edge, is in need of repair. The sea wall is essentially this big pile of rocks retaining structure underneath the sidewalk. We’re doing the repairs and on top of this we will be adding further improvements that will result in a viewing deck, sort of a raised structure with benches so that people will be able to enjoy this particular spot and look out on the water, watch the ferries coming in, docking at the new North Terminal.

The back side of the Ferry Building (facing water), on its way to being opened for pedestrian traffic.

Once we move over and open up the North and South Terminals, Pier ½ will no longer be a commuter ferry terminal. Hornblower has the lease for Pier ½ to create their cruise terminal. The canopy will be removed and replaced with a new pedestrian waiting structure for passengers that are going to be getting on Hornblower’s excursion boats, along with a new ticketing booth for Hornblower, benches and other improvements adjacent to the promenade.

The Ferry Building and the new terminals related to the Ferry Building are intended specifically for commuters. One neat new features will be a signage program that will better inform the ferry riders and the general public about how to connect between the waterside and the landside. As ferry riders come off of the ferry and exit through our portal structure, they’ll be able to read a map that shows an axonometric (editors note: this word, perfect for impressing your friends at Scrabble, is an adjective meaning drawing only partially to scale and is used to describe a method of drawing a three-dimensional object so that the vertical and horizontal axes are drawn to scale but the curves and diagonals appear distorted) view of the Ferry Building and the mid-Embarcadero area so that as they’re coming off the ferries, they can track how they need to go through or around the Ferry Building to get over to wherever, BART or some restaurant over at the foot of Market area. And then they’ll also be able to see this quarter of San Francisco on a separate map, just an overall map with the major transit information so they can see how to get to other transit systems, be it BART or Muni or bus system. The sign structures will have a curved, well-lit surface that will be visible from a distance. These are new, significant structures with the flexibility to adjust to future map and schedule needs.

It’ll be the kind of signage you’d see in the BART station, which makes sense since this is an inter-modal stop. You’ll see an overall Bay Area water transit map. Folks will be able to see how to get from San Francisco to say Vallejo, which ferry terminal you should be coming from and where the different ferries go. Below that, you’ll also see ferry schedules for all of the ferry systems

Rendering of the outdoor signage that will make taking a ferry easier for commuters and tourists alike. Photo courtesy Roma Design

leaving from the ferry terminal to the various destinations. So it’ll be a one-stop shop as far as getting your general ferry information. We’ll have those sign masts along the waterfront at both the North and South Terminals and another one located as you come through the Ferry Building itself, which won’t be completed until late next year. Additionally, there will be similar sign masts along the Embarcadero side of the Ferry Building. Our signage will be consistent with an upcoming signage system that the City will be using throughout the city to note key destination points.

There will also be a waiting area with signage within the Ferry Building itself when it reopens in about 18 months. There will be a central area for ferry commuters to wait, and while plans are still in the conceptual phase, you might see monitors like the kind you see in airports, so that if a particular ferry is running late, commuters could see that from the comfort of one of the restaurants planned for the Ferry Building and just order another drink.