Waterfront Accessibility, The Langley Lift and Public Input

Hello Langley,

Thank you to those that have taken the time to provide public input on the Langley Lift concept and view assessment.  The city appreciates very much appreciates your input.  If you haven’t submitted public input on this issue please consider doing so by using the form at the bottom of this post.

Waterfront Accessibilty and Langley Lift History

Some members of the public may not be familiar with the history of planning for improved waterfront accessibility or the origins of the Langley Lift and Funicular Concepts.  This post aims at providing some additional background information on the history of the issue and the project purpose and need.

Project Purpose and Need

Improving access to the waterfront and marina area has been a longstanding goal for both the City of Langley and the Port of South Whidbey to facilitate further expansion of the marina.  Parking at the marina is extremely limited and most of the existing parking is required to serve small boats and associated boat trailers based on the conditions of prior grant funding for the construction of the timber pile breakwater and boat slips.  The master plan for the expansion of the marina includes a significant increase in the number of slips including additional slips for year round permanent moorage.  Parking for year round moorage slips has to be addressed off-site from the marina because of the limited existing parking.  By providing an accessible connection between off-site parking areas and the marina year round moorage users can park off-site and bring their boating gear and supplies without having to drive down to the marina, which will limit future vehicle trips and fossil fuel use associated with marina expansion.  A marina user parking at the Island Church Park and Ride (6th and Cascade) and using an electric means of transportation (vehicle, elevator, or funicular) would avoid two round trip vehicle trips (one to drop off and park car, another to pick up) to the marina of .34 miles for each leg of the trip for a total reduction of 1.36 miles.  Limiting new vehicle trips to the marina associated with the expansion and potentially other users over time would limit increases in fossil fuel use and use of Wharf Street.  Therefore, improvements to waterfront accessibility must be included in the marina expansion plans in some form to meet parking, permitting and functional requirements.  In addition, tour boat operators have indicated that an improved connection between the marina and downtown is necessary for them to provide service.  Another goal is to provide ADA compliant accessibility between the marina and the downtown area.  Here is a concept rendering of the build-out of the Langley Marina from the 2004 Master Plan (note:  the next marina expansion project will likely vary from this rendering):

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Langley Lift Concept History

The concept of the “Langley Lift” was first considered during the development of the 2004 Boat Harbor Master Plan in April of 2004.  At the time the the City of Langley still owned the Marina.  The two Langley Lift concept illustrations below were adopted as part of the officially adopted Boat Harbor Master Plan by the City Council in April of 2004.

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The city’s adopted capital improvement program has included “waterfront accessibility improvements” for severals years, which may include stairs, an elevator/bridge, electric vehicles, a pedestrian tram (funicular) or a combination thereof.  To further expand the marina, which has been a goal in the city’s adopted plans for many years, will require improved accessibility to the waterfront in some form to minimize vehicle trips to the marina and connect to upland parking areas.

Over the past three years the city has received $500,000 in rural economic development funds from Island County for waterfront accessibility improvements.  The grant applications included letters of support from the Port of South Whidbey, Island Transit and a Wharf Street Property Owner.

The City adopted into its comprehensive plan in 2013 a concept illustration for a funicular tram to connect the city’s waterfront (The concept is intended to illustrate the location, scale, massing and view impacts and not an actual design for the funicular cab).  See below for funicular concept plans:

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Here is a version with a simpler cab design – several people have suggested if a funicular is implemented the cab should be designed by a local artist.


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The City of Langley updated the Shoreline Master Program in 2013 and it includes support for improving waterfront accessibility as a means to expand the marina and address the lack of parking.

Again, the city encourages the public to submit public comments on this issue by using the form below: