The existing Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal was built in 1988, moving from its cramped location on Custom House Wharf to City owned property along the western edge of the Maine State Pier. At that time, the CBITD was serving a smaller population; the waterfront was largely a working waterfront and the island populations were comprised of fishermen and mostly local residents. The major points of departure were Gates 1, 2, and 3 and the boats were between 70’ and 80’ in length. At that time it made sense to locate the terminal waiting room in the middle of the facility, close to those Gates.
Fast forward to 2011 and much has changed. Nearly one million people now use the ferry service, more than double the number the terminal was designed for in 1988. An additional 50,000 people flow through the terminal each year, using the restrooms, visiting the Maine State Pier, and sightseeing along the waterfront. The amount of freight being handled by the ferries has increased dramatically and vehicular traffic on the east side of the terminal is congested all summer long. The car ferry travels to Peaks Island seven days a week with multiple runs, and island visitors that used to come only for the summer now visit during the fall and winter weekends as well. To handle the increased traffic, CBITD has built several new boats. The newer boats are longer, ranging from 100’ to 120’ in length, causing increased pressure on the already crowded edge of the wharf.
As use of the terminal has increased, more and more people and freight are being serviced by the larger ferryboats. Today Gates 4 and 5 are the most heavily used gates. Passengers sitting in the waiting room of the Ferry Terminal cannot see their gate or boat’s arrival, so they choose to wait outside, often in inclement weather. In the summer, because the waiting room and ticketing area are so undersized, there is frequently a long line of passengers waiting to buy tickets.
The southern end of the terminal building, the part of the building closest to Gates 4 & 5, houses the mechanical room, freight room, and staff break room, making it impossible to expand the existing waiting room in that direction. The volume of freight has increased dramatically, especially in the summer, making it more and more difficult for passengers to get to the boats safely. Of particular concern are the public restrooms; they are unsatisfactory in number and configuration, especially after a cruise run. The homeless population habitually uses them, and their poor condition is a recurrent complaint by islanders and visitors alike.
In the Fall of 2011 the CBITD issued an RFP for terminal and marine improvements. Scott Simons Architects (SSA) was selected to prepare a Master Plan for the terminal, and to address the facility needs that have developed over time with the increased passenger and freight use. Working collaboratively with the Building Committee over a period of six months, SSA developed a Master Plan that provides a roadmap for improvements over the next ten years. SSA conducted programming interviews to understand the history of the Ferry Terminal Building and it use over the past twenty-four years. SSA interviewed captains, deckhands, operations agents, management, and took ferry rides to observe the operations. SSA met with the Terminal Renovation Committee on a number of occasions, presented the Master Plan to the Board and held preliminary meetings with City Planning staff. SSA presented a draft of the Master Plan to Peaks Island Residents for feedback; other island resident meetings are planned in the near future.
Included below are the Master Plan and the Condition Assessment of the Marine Structures.