Projected high costs may run ferry plan aground 

Though plans for a local ferry terminal and service have barely left the dock, some in the city already say it’s too expensive and inaccessible to be a success.

Redwood City port officials are kicking off a study of a potential ferry-terminal site on Westpoint Slough, either on port property or land owned by the massive Pacific Shores Center, where companies such as Openwave, Dreamworks PDI and PDL BioPharm lease space, according to Port Director Michael Giari.

Talk of adding ferries comes at a time when major projects are in the works along Redwood City’s Baylands. Peninsula Park, on the site of the controversial and ill-fated Marina Shores project, could bring 796 new residences to the Bay, while Cargill Salt has hired mega-developers DMB Associates to help create a re-use plan for its 1,433-acre Bayfront property.

However, if ferry service comes to Redwood City, the biggest beneficiaries would likely be workers in Pacific Shores and offices nearby, according to resident and transit advocate Adrian Brandt.

"It doesn’t seem wise to put in a service which requires $15 million and isn’t accessible to most residents," Brandt said.

Resident and Baylands advocate Ralph Nobles supports a ferry, but questions whether it would unburden local roads.

"I think some people would use it, but I don’t think they’ll ever get enough people to travel by ferry," Nobles said.

Establishing plans for the ferry terminal — along with conceptual designs for vehicle access and parking, shuttle bus parking, sheltered waiting areas and a floating dock — will help theproposed service become eligible for Measure A transportation tax funds in 2009. Building a terminal at the port could cost $10 to $15 million, while constructing the ferries will cost $22 million and running the service will cost roughly $5 million per year, according to Water Transit Authority spokeswoman Shirley Douglas.

Riding the ferry from Redwood City to San Francisco during an October trial run was "fabulous," according to Redwood City Councilwoman Diane Howard. "I grew up on the water in New York, and the idea of being able to ride up to San Francisco is great."

Ferry service will likely come sooner to South San Francisco, where it’s scheduled to launch in 2008. Initially, South San Francisco ferries were slated to take passengers to San Francisco, but now officials are looking at an east-west route, something they are also now considering for Redwood City, according to Howard.

Port directors are scheduled Wednesday to launch the process of studying the ferry terminal site. They meet at 8 a.m. at 675 Seaport Blvd.

E-mail Beth Winegarner at

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