SSA moves ahead with plans for new terminal, ferry

The SSA is running Saturday ferries on a trip by trip basis. – File photo

The Steamship Authority members, meeting Tuesday and joined by newly named Falmouth member Catherine Norton, discussed plans to move ahead with the design of a new Woods Hole terminal. Management also gave members an update on plans for a new vehicle/passenger vessel.

Falmouth selectmen appointed Ms. Norton to fill the seat formerly occupied by Robert Marshall, who resigned after 11 years on the board. In appointing Ms. Norton, Falmouth selectmen passed over S. Eric Asendorf, a longtime member of the finance advisory board and later the SSA port council. Mr. Asendorf resigned, ending 18 years years of representation.

Mr. Marshall’s departure followed a stormy meeting in November between boatline management and Woods Hole constituents who used the opportunity to discuss and criticize draft plans for a new terminal to lash out at the SSA over proposed terminal designs and boatline-generated traffic through their community.

In November, SSA members reviewed three preliminary design concepts by Bertaux and Iwerks Architects for the planned reconstruction of the Woods Hole terminal: a single level, split-level, and double level. The design team said that all the alternative designs include the need to move the existing administrative offices and maintenance shops off-site to another location that is yet to be determined. The existing terminal building would be demolished, opening up views to the water, and the existing terminal pier would be partly removed to make way for a relocated slip number three, according to a management report.

On Tuesday, according to a management report of the meeting, Mr. Lamson said that the SSA management staff is continuing to meet with the working group from the Woods Hole community to consider some additional alternatives to the design concepts for the reconstruction of the Woods Hole terminal.

“In particular, the staff is looking at other possible locations on the site for the terminal building and having it be one story instead of two stories. The staff also is continuing to

refine the program elements for the terminal building so that they are more along the lines of the SSA’s Hyannis and Vineyard Haven terminals, which could allow the SSA to reduce the size of the building.”

Mr. Lamson said it would take around four weeks for Bertaux + Iwerks to develop alternatives. Once they are completed, he said the staff will meet with the community working group again at the beginning of March to review them. “Mr. Lamson stated that his goal is to come up with a preferred alternative that represents a consensus among the staff and the community as to how the new terminal can meet the SSA’s operational needs while also addressing the community’s legitimate concerns as best as the SSA can,” according to the management report.

Reporting on another planning effort, Mr. Lamson said that the staff had a kick-off meeting with Elliott Bay Design Group for the design of the SSA’s new vehicle/passenger ferry. He said staff reviewed the project schedule and developed a proposed “Statement of Owner’s Requirements” for the new ferry.

One open issue is whether the vessel’s passenger capacity should be 384 or 512. The members authorized Elliott Bay to study what additional requirements and costs would be incurred if the SSA were to decide to have the vessel’s passenger capacity be 512 instead of 384.

The staff’s goal is to have the preliminary design completed by mid-March, to have the final contract design and specifications approved by the United States Coast Guard in order to issue an invitation for bids in October for the construction of the new vessel, to award the construction contract in January 2015, and to have the vessel in service by May 2016, according to the report.

In other business, Mr. Lamson also reported that work is continuing as scheduled on the Palmer Avenue parking lot improvements. The project is still expected to be completed before Memorial Day weekend.

Also Tuesday, SSA management reported that on Tuesday, January 14, the SSA started accepting online vehicle reservations from the general public for the 2014 summer season and, over the previous six days, the SSA had processed more than 15,000 transactions, representing a 3 percent increase over the same period in January 2013. Moreover, the SSA’s Headstart customers made approximately 85 percent of their online reservations on the SSA’s new website without any significant problems, which will allow the SSA to discontinue using its old website later this month, management said.