Load Environment of Washington State Ferry and AK Marine Highway Landings

Abstract and project information last updated: 12 March 2013. Project updates are dated below.

Multiple pipes stand throughout the image with a small landing in the center holding a man in an orange safety vest. He is applying gages to the piping, facing in the direction of the viewer.

Credit: Jonathan Hutchinson

Project PI Andrew Metzger installs strain gages and protective coating on a berthing dolphin piling on the Auke Bay ferry landing in Juneau, Alaska in August 2010.

Andrew T. Metzger (UAF)

US Department of Transportation (RITA)

Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities

Washington Department of Transportation

1 August 2009
End Date
15 February 2013


Anybody riding a ferry wants it to dock safely — and for port managers, having passengers and goods in the water is never a good thing. This project aims to mitigate uncertainty and assumptions about load demands on ferry terminal structures, specifically, ferry landing structures. The project will provide information needed to safely and efficiently design ferry berthing and landing facilities, decrease the uncertainty in design criteria, and remove assumptions associated with procedures traditionally used to design these structures. For Alaska Marine Highway System facilities, loads imposed on dolphin structures and mooring line loads are of most concern. Due to a lack of information about the magnitude of these loads or how they may be determined, AMHS engineers are forced to make (sometimes gross) design assumptions. The Washington State Ferry System also confronts these uncertainties, specifically in the design of wingwall structures that accept vessels during loading/unloading of passengers and vehicles. While the structures used by AMHS and WSFS have fundamental differences, the metrics needed to determine appropriate design criteria are the same. Thus, the instrumentation used to monitor these facilities in operation is also similar. These similarities present an opportunity for a cost-sharing project in which the ADOT&PF and Washington State DOT are able to leverage research funding and benefit from a much more comprehensive project than either might be able to support individually. To achieve this project’s goals, the research team will acquire a robust statistical sample of the metrics (strains and displacements) needed to define the design criteria (loads from vessels and waves). The data will be gathered via in situ monitoring of in-service acilities, specifically, the AMHS terminal at Auke Bay near Juneau, Alaska, and the WSF Seattle terminal in Washington.

Final Report

Characterizing the Load Environment of Ferry Landings for Washington State Ferries and the Alaska Marine Highway System
27 Jun 2013

Characterizing the Load Environments of Ferry Landings for Washington State Ferries and the Alaska Marine Highway System
Andrew Metzger, Ph.D., P.E. Jason Kwiatkowski, EIT. Jonathan Hutchinson, EIT.

Related Project Activity

27 March 2013

Thesis: Washington Ferry & AMHS Landings



8 February 2013

Thesis: Washington Ferry & AMHS Landings


AUTC Project # 309001

J Hutchinson THESIS_Final (Repaired)

20 December 2010

Goto Meeting: Load Environment of Ferry Landings

by Joel Bailey

Andrew T. Metzger and Jonathan Hutchinson presented “Characterizing the Load Environment of Washington State Ferries & Alaska Marine Highway Ferry Landings” in a Goto meeting. PDF of their slides: ferryLandings_loads_20Dec2010v2.pdf