VALLEJO -- A public promenade, passenger ferry service and spot for storing gasoline are part of a $22 million Vallejo facility on Mare Island that will begin construction later this year.
Such a facility on Mare Island has been on the drawing board for about a decade, but a series of agreements have been reached and announced, bringing the project closer to reality.
The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which now controls the Vallejo Baylink Ferry service, will build the facility with state transportation funds and proceeds from Bay Area bridge tolls.
WETA board member Tony Intintoli, Vallejo's former mayor who worked on ferry issues during his tenure, said the new facility represents a significant investment and should lay to rest lingering doubts about the agency discontinuing local service.
"We needed a maintenance facility on Mare Island," Intintoli said. One big benefit will be a larger gasoline storage unit that will help save on fuel costs, he added.
Construction on the new ferry facility will begin later this year and will include maintenance, fueling and berthing facilities, administrative offices, improvements to the waterfront and greater public access.
After its completion, the facility will also offer ferry service from Mare Island to the existing Vallejo Terminal, providing greater travel options for Touro University students and those who live and work on the island.
The new project will also be able to handle other vessels in the WETA fleet, including those from possible expansions to other North Bay spots, WETA spokesman Ernest Sanchez said. The agency is planning a similar facility in Alameda.
"Between those two major maintenance facilities, we'll be able to maintain our fleet," Sanchez said.
The project also will retain the 42 full-time jobs associated with the Vallejo Baylink Ferry service.
"I'm very happy we're going to be doing it on Mare Island. It involves a (big) investment and construction jobs. It's good news for the economy," Intintoli said.
Meanwhile, Vallejo's current mayor, Osby Davis, offered thanks to WETA for making a "significant investment" on Mare Island and Vallejo, and to Lennar Mare Island for its "tireless efforts working with all parties to make this deal happen."
"The new facility will create jobs and improve public access and use of Mare Island waterfront. It will also give Mare Island residents and workers a new transportation option," Davis said in a prepared statement.
The Vallejo ferry facility, slated for Building 165 on Mare Island, has been part of the redevelopment plans for the Mare Island waterfront for more than a decade, Lennar Mare Island spokesman Jason Keadjian said. Building 165, a wood and steel structure built in 1905, is north of Dry Dock No. 1, and was originally a warehouse before it was used for lead casting, he said.
Keadjian said Lennar Mare Island will create pedestrian access and install benches, lights, garbage cans and signs, as well as a parking lot for passengers and others associated with the new project.
Construction activities will move forward and include issuance of a request for proposal for construction and contracting firms to perform the work. Sanchez said a construction contract may be awarded by August.
A $1.4 million construction-management contract has already been awarded to Weston Solutions.
The project could be complete and open for passenger ferry service in 2015, Sanchez said.