The city of Berkeley secured a $5.1 million fund from the Alameda County Transportation Commission, or ACTC, for the Berkeley Pier with Ferry Access Project last Thursday, according to a press release from Berkeley city Councilmember Rigel Robinson.
The project aims to rebuild the currently closed Berkeley Pier at the Marina and add ferry access, according to the city’s official site. Securing funding for the project allows the city to move forward with the project’s design development phase, which will cost an estimated $11 million, according to Scott Ferris, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation & Waterfront department.
“We anticipate that this $11 million will be obtained — hopefully by the end of June — so that we can fully get started on doing the design development phase,” Ferris said.
The design development phase, involving studies, analysis and engineering will take approximately three years to complete, Ferris noted. This phase will include state and federal environmental analysis — the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, and the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
Ferris noted the “first domino” to propel funding for the project fell several months ago, when the California Supreme Court released funds from Regional Measure 3, or RM3. This allowed the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, or WETA, to receive up to $35 million a year in operational funds and $300 million in capital funds, according to the San Francisco Bay Ferry website.
As it works to identify how to spend those RM3 funds for its next budget cycle, Ferris said WETA intends to potentially back infrastructure and operations for the proposed Berkeley ferry route.
To secure the remainder of the $11 million for the ferry, Ferris said the city has applied for, and been recommended for, funding for a state Coastal Conservancy grant of $2.9 million, which he hopes will be identified Thursday. Moreover, Ferris expects the remaining amount of about $2 to $3 million and anything after to be picked up by WETA in the next fiscal year.
“Between the three sources — the ACTC grant, (WETA funding and) the state Coastal Conservancy grant of $2.9 million — we will have all the funding in place to do the design development phase over the next three years for the Pier, including the water transport aspect,” Ferris said.
With funding plans in action and secured, next steps include establishing and executing grant memorandums of understanding and agreements between the different funding agencies, procuring design and environmental consultants and developing the design and environmental schedule over the summer.
While funding efforts for the actual construction of the pier have not begun, a portion of that funding will come out of RM3, Ferris said. He estimates construction will take one and a half to two years; over the next three years, the city will also work on securing total funding for construction. By the end of this period, as the City completes CEQA, NEPA and all the design development, efforts to secure the remaining funds for the entire project will already be underway, he added.
Thomas Hall, a spokesperson for WETA, shared that a joint feasibility study conducted with the city found “sustainable demand” for ferry services between Berkeley and San Francisco, adding that a ferry trip connecting the two cities would be a “major time saver” for travelers and will relieve road congestion. Hall added that as the Richmond ferry route launched in 2019, ridership projections were immediately surpassed, seeing great success on that route to this day.
“This funding is a momentous win that will put Berkeley on track to build a ferry terminal to provide residents with a new public transportation option from Berkeley to San Francisco and beyond,” Robinson, who represents Berkeley on the ACTC, said in an email. “This project represents a homecoming for ferry service to our beautiful Marina and an opportunity to finally reopen our beloved Pier.”