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Aerial photograph of existing embarkation facility at Pier 31-1/2

Draft EIS - February 20, 2015

The National Park Service (NPS) is pleased to transmit the attached Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Alcatraz Ferry Embarkation Project. NPS invites your review and comment on the document. With annual visitation of about 1.5 million, Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco's top attractions and an international icon.

The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and pursuant to the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations. The NPS has also begun consultations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and will meet its obligations as the process continues. NPS is the lead federal agency, and worked with the Port of San Francisco (Port) in developing the project alternatives. The project would establish a new, long-term ferry embarkation site for passenger service between the northern San Francisco waterfront and Alcatraz Island. It would also establish occasional connecting ferry service between the selected embarkation site and the existing Fort Baker pier in Sausalito, as well as between Fort Mason and other park destinations in San Francisco Bay.

The project objectives include the following:
• Establish the long-term (50 years or more) primary location for visitor access to Alcatraz Island.
• Provide an identifiable area for quality welcome, orientation, and interpretation of the natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources of Alcatraz, the larger GGNRA, and the national park system.
• Accommodate critical visitor and operational programs and facilities, and provide for efficient land and vessel operations.
• Economic feasibility and sustainability, and generation of revenue for investment on Alcatraz Island and other NPS facilities and visitor programs.
• Provide facilities for cross-bay ferry service to accommodate existing and future visitor demand for travel to Alcatraz Island and the other parklands in the Bay.

The Draft EIS describes and analyzes four alternatives-the No Action Alternative plus three action alternatives as follows:
• Port Pier 31 ~: would retrofit the existing structures, including portions of the Pier 31 and Pier 33 sheds and bulkhead buildings, and establish long-term ferry service at Pier 31 ~ (the wharf between Piers 31 and 33) along the Embarcadero. A third berth would be constructed to support ferry travel to other GGNRA sites.
• Port Pier 41: would retrofit and expand the existing structures and establish long-term ferry service at Pier 41 in Fisherman's Wharf. A third berth would be constructed to support ferry travel to other GGNRA sites.
• Fort Mason Pier 3: would retrofit the existing structures and establish a long-term ferry service at Pier 3 in Lower Fort Mason. A third berth between Piers 1 and 2 would also be constructed.

All action alternatives would also provide the occasional connecting ferry service operated to/from Lower Fort Mason and to/from Fort Baker. All action alternatives have the potential to meet project objectives.

Typically, a Draft EIS identifies a preferred alternative. However, NPS cannot identify a preferred alternative for the project at this time because agreement has not been reached with the Port on fundamental terms and conditions ofNPS occupancy of Pier 31 ~ or Pier 41. Our conversations with the Port over the past year have centered on NPS occupancy of Pier 31 ~ as presented in the Draft EIS, but significant business terms remain unresolved, such as the level of rent the NPS or its concessioner would be charged and the approach to implementing phased improvements to the Port structures. Until these issues are resolved, NPS cannot fully consider a Port site as its preferred alternative. We are hopeful that productive discussions can continue and business terms can be finalized, thus enabling NPS to name a preferred alternative in the Final EIS and complete a Record of Decision.
 
Comment Period: Closed        02/20/2015 - 05/20/2015
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