By Mark Edward Nero
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Nov. 29 unanimously endorsed an agreement between the Port of San Francisco and the National Park Service for a 30-year use contract, with two 10-year options for renewal to continue ferry operation to Alcatraz Island from Pier 31 1/2.
The approval helps bring to a close a multi-year process by the Park Service, port and City of San Francisco to identify a site for long-term Alcatraz ferry embarkation as well as develop and operate a welcome facility.
The port and Park Service worked together for years to identify a site for long-term ferry embarkation. The San Francisco Port Commission unanimously approved financial terms of the agreement in July. Final environmental compliance, leases with the Parks Conservancy and a future ferry concessioner will be forthcoming.
Under the agreement, the Park Service will select a ferry concessioner through a competitive bid process. The agreement also includes the addition of a third berth for increased ferry service to sites at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including Alcatraz Island, which sees over 1.5 million visitors annually.
Additionally, the use agreement includes the operation of enhanced services for visitors. The acre-sized, open-air waterfront plaza is to be reconfigured and fully dedicated to visitors.
All service vehicles are to be moved inside Pier 31, which is closed to the public.
To avoid disrupting ferry service to Alcatraz Island, Piers 31-33 are expected to be transformed in phases over five years.
“Alcatraz is an important and historic attraction that brings over a million people to our waterfront each year,” Port of San Francisco Executive Director Elaine Forbes said. “I’m proud that with our partners we have created a new agreement that will create more open space for families and enhance the visitor experience on our waterfront, bringing people back again and again.”
The Park Service says it will complete the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement in the spring.