Honoring the Past • Living in the Present • Looking to the Future

ACE Recommendation – Short Term Waterfront Access

The following letter dated Feb 22,2015 was sent to Mayor Dave Earling and City Council Members Bloom, Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Johnson, Mesaros and Petso.

A link to the original letter is found here.

Mayor Dave Earling
City Council Members Bloom, Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Johnson, Mesaros and Petso
Subject: Safety Issues West of the BNSF Tracks on the Waterfront

Everyone agrees that access to The Edmonds waterfront is often hindered by ever-increasing and longer freight train activity that is projected to increase over time. ACE has discussed this ongoing problem at several of our recent meetings, and had presentations on both Edmonds Crossing (by Stephen Clifton) and the train trench (by Charles Gold).

Currently there are at least three long-term solutions that have been suggested:

  • The Edmonds Crossing project, which is the current detailed solution in the Comprehensive Plan,
  • Overhead access to the existing ferry landing area and holding lanes, and
  • A train trench running North South along the existing track right of way.

All of these alternatives will require extensive study and will face an uphill battle with the State Legislature, WSDOT and BNSF for the hundreds of millions of dollars of funding that each will require. The detailed studies and planning each will require means that any of these three options are many years away from becoming reality.

There is a fourth alternative that has been suggested which does not appear to be nearly as expensive, can address immediate access for safety purposes and might also include pedestrian access over the tracks. Options to be considered include:

  • Access via a small bridge that could accommodate both emergency vehicles (ambulance and possibly small fire-fighting equipment) and pedestrian traffic, from Bell Street or possible from another area farther South,
  • Building a small emergency facility West of the tracks along the waterfront with ambulance and small fire-fighting capability and minimal staffing (See City of Tacoma Marine Security Operations Center, 3301 Ruston Way, $4.7 million), and
  • Requiring (and funding) emergency training to those working on the waterfront.

Some or all of these options could be employed together.

The comprehensive plan currently before the council includes the following proposed new language relative to ongoing activities in the Downtown Waterfront Activity Center:
Increased concern about conflicts and safety issues related to the interaction of rail, ferry, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The time to act on these conflicts and safety issues is now. We have just read that the legislature has approved significant funding for studies of this problem in Edmonds, and we encourage the City and the Council to move forward on those studies as quickly as possible. More importantly, since this fourth alternative will likely be much less expensive and is not nearly as complex technically, we request that you authorize funding for it as quickly as possible to work toward some practical short term solutions. While we have been fortunate to avoid a major disaster, our luck may run out. Further, if one person is injured or has a medical emergency and cannot obtain needed short term assistance because of an accident or an oil or coal train moving more than 100 cars through downtown, that would be one person too many.

Thank you for considering this request. We look forward to seeing the City explore these short term solutions soon.

The Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE)