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Traffic temporarily increases at Departure Bay terminal

With a pair of ferry terminals closing for upgrades, Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal will see extra traffic for the next four weeks.

Powell River’s Westview terminal and Comox’s Little River terminal are set to close temporarily this Sunday (Jan. 12). Powell River traffic will be transferred to the Saltery Bay terminal on the Sunshine Coast, with Departure Bay standing in for the Comox terminal.

Ferries will be leaving Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal at 5 a.m. and 6:35 p.m. daily.

The Comox terminal will re-open Feb. 8, with the Powell River terminal set to re-open March 10.

“During the first three-and-a-half weeks of this terminal work, both terminals are closed, the only Vancouver Island terminal that made sense was Departure Bay,” said B.C. Ferries public affairs manager Darin Guenette.

With the Saltery Bay ferry going in and out of Departure Bay twice a day, there will be increased traffic but according to Guenette it won’t be noticeable – the ferry has a capacity of 125 cars.

“The people leaving around Departure Bay shouldn’t really notice much difference at all,” Guenette said. “It’s an intermediate-sized vessel. The normal vessels that go in and out of Departure Bay over to Horseshoe Bay are a larger fleet. It’s a smaller ferry, it only comes in twice a day, [estimated] 100 or so cars and it’s a low traffic season so all that means we’re not expecting a noticeable impact at all.”

There will also be alternate service provided between Saltery Bay and Texada Island (Blubber Bay terminal).

Guenette said marine structures at the berths at the two terminals are reaching the end of their expected life and are in need of upgrading and replacement. Work will include replacement of the trestle at Westview and the entire project, including alternate services, will cost an estimated $30 million.

Consultation was done with communities on both sides of the route and will increase efficiency and durability amongst other things, will provide about 40 years of service, said Guenette.

For more information on terminal closures and service notices, please visit www.bcferries.com.

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