VIDEO: WETA opens new ferry maintenance and operations hub

DECEMBER 14, 2018 — The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) has officially opened its new Ron Cowan Central Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility in Alameda.

The $50 million facility serves as an operations and maintenance hub for WETA's San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet serving Alameda, Oakland, Harbor Bay, San Francisco and South San Francisco. The project is the first new major construction at the former Naval Air Station Alameda.

The facility was built to streamline WETA's ferry service operation, make routine maintenance and repairs of the vessels more efficient and provide important emergency response capabilities. Providing emergency water transit is a key piece of WETA's statutory mission.

"Our new Central Bay facility is the foundation for the San Francisco Bay Area ferry system of the future," said Nina Rannells, WETA's executive director. "WETA's long-range strategic plan calls for more frequent service and additional terminals: a tripling of the fleet and a quadrupling of ridership. The Central Bay facility will allow that to be possible by making our fleet operations more efficient."


Features of the new facility include:

  • Marine facility with berthing slips for 12 ferry vessels
  • Equipment and working yard that supports light repair and maintenance work
  • Dispatch and operations hub
  • Emergency response center
  • Fuel facility with a total storage capacity of 48,000 gallons
  • Site improvements including expansion of the San Francisco Bay Trail
  • New harbor seal float to prevent habitat displacement

The facility is named after Ron Cowan, an Alameda businessman and lifelong champion for expanded ferry service in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cowan founded the Harbor Bay ferry service in the 1980s, chaired the Blue Ribbon Task Force that called for the creation of WETA in the 1990s and chaired the Water Transit Task Force in the 2000s. In 2016, the WETA Central Bay facility was dedicated to and named after Cowan.

"We're honored to have Ron Cowan's name gracing the building," Rannells said. "His name is synonymous with ferries in Alameda and beyond."

The total construction cost of the project was $50 million, funded by State Proposition 1B through the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration.

Construction began in 2016. The design-build contractor was a joint venture of Overaa Construction and Power Engineering Construction. WETA's design team was KPFF Consulting Engineers and ROMA Design Group. The construction manager was 4Leaf, Inc.

WETA opened its Charlene Haught Johnson North Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility on Mare Island in 2016. That facility provides similar capability for vessels used in the Vallejo ferry service.

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