Alternatives Analysis

Main Street view w ferry traffic

Following a 14-month, in-depth study process of over 50 alternatives, guided and assisted by an interagency, Mayor-appointed Advisory Task Force and informed by copious public involvement and comment, the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector emerged as the most feasible, most affordable and most appropriate near-term solution to the growing problems of congestion and safety experienced on the Edmonds Waterfront due to the intersection of trains, vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and ferries.

This page provides information about the proposed Waterfront Connector project, status updates related to the project, and background information. 

Problem Statement 
The City of Edmonds and its partner transportation agencies are working to implement near-term and long-term solutions to at-grade railroad crossing conflicts affecting freight and passenger rail, a state highway and ferry terminal, transit, and local vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Access between downtown Edmonds and the waterfront community on Puget Sound is available through only two roadways, Main Street and Dayton Street, each of which crosses the BNSF tracks at grade and only ¼-mile apart. Passing trains simultaneously close both crossings, cutting off access to the waterfront. Currently, gates at the Main Street and Dayton Street crossings are closed for passing trains an average 6% of each day. With rail traffic projected to grow 50 to 100% by 2030, the number and duration of gate closures will correspondingly increase. More critically, a few times a year trains break down or are otherwise stalled, blocking both crossings for several hours and cutting off all access to and from the waterfront community. Of gravest concern is the denial of access to emergency responders and the serious safety risks posed by delays to firefighters, medical personnel and police during such emergencies.

Process
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling formed an Advisory Task Force to oversee a 14-month alternatives analysis and recommend a course of actions to address the needs for improved waterfront access. The Task Force comprised representatives from the City of Edmonds, Port of Edmonds, BNSF Railroad, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit (passenger rail service), Community Transit (regional bus service), and local residents. The study process extensively engaged the community through print, online and social media and through four open house meetings conducted both live and on-line at key points during the study. Throughout the study, briefings were conducted to the Mayor, City Council, Port Commission, transportation and public safety staff, and community groups. Over 50 potential solutions were initially considered, with 11 alternatives being studied in detail. The Task Force convened twice monthly over 13 months to define the purpose and needs for the project, develop evaluation criteria, and comparatively assess the alternatives. A final slate of recommended actions was presented to Mayor Earling, who in turn presented his recommendations to City Council in November 2016. The Council unanimously approved of the project as the "preferred alternative" moving forward and directed the identified projects to the City’s capital improvement program.

Solution
In addition to immediate, operational interventions that could help address some emergency response issues, the final slate of potential solutions consisted of three alternatives: a low-cost pedestrian access bridge, an emergency vehicle flyover, and a fully grade-separated, new ferry terminal with emergency access. The pedestrian bridge was considered to provide little ultimate benefit, while the new ferry terminal would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and may take up to 25 years to implement. For these reasons the cost-effective, readily implementable Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector, providing emergency vehicle access when necessary and full-time pedestrian and bicycle access to/from the waterfront, was selected. This is a one-lane 
roadway bridge spanning the railroad tracks to connect the police and fire stations directly to the waterfront, providing immediate access for emergency responders and emergency ferry off-load and on-load. It will also provide pedestrian and bicycle access from Sunset Avenue to Brackett’s Landing Park and the waterfront.The cost to implement this project is estimated between $25 and 30 million.

IMAGES 

Project Vicinity and At-Grade Crossings 
Connector project vicinity aerial copy

Aerial View of Waterfront Connector
Aerial view of Connector

View of Connector from Ground Level 
Ground view of Connector

View from Edmonds Street 
Connector view from Edmonds St


Watch KOMO TV News Report about the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector 



Project Press Releases and Background

Press Releases

Background

1992 Feasibility Analysis ~ Edmonds Ferry Terminal

The City of Edmonds has begun the process of analyzing alternatives that would resolve serious vehicular, pedestrian, and public safety issues and conflicts caused by at-grade railroad crossings located at Main and Dayton streets along the Edmonds waterfront. 

Growing volumes of train traffic block access to thousands of commuters, residents, employees, and visitors and prevent timely delivery of emergency services to the water side of BNSF tracks where, along with a State ferry terminal, we have:

  • the Senior Center,
  • the Marina with moorage for 894 boats, a nationally renowned salt-water dive park, and three separate waterfront parks,
  • several office buildings, three restaurants, two 4- to 5-story condominium buildings, and several single-family homes.

These waterfront developments are frequent users of paramedic, fire, and police services.

The ferry terminal is the last remaining location where ferry loading across at-grade train tracks takes place in the Washington State Ferry system. Currently, train passage completely halts ferry loading/unloading. Second busiest in the state, the Edmonds-Kingston run carries 4 million passengers annually and is the state’s top ferry freight route.

At present, about 40 trains go through Edmonds daily, shutting down access to the City’s waterfront for up to 2 hours/day, or even more if accidents or breakdowns occur. Train traffic could grow to 100 trains per day by 2030, which would shut down waterfront access for about 4 ½ hours in a 24-hour period. Action is needed now to address this eventuality.

After receipt of $500,000 from the State of Washington, as well as contributions from the Port of Edmonds, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Sound Transit, Community Transit, as well as City money, the City has been able to commence the Alternatives Analysis process that will roll out over the next 14-18 months. To help guide and lend expertise to the process, Mayor Earling has appointed a 10-member Advisory Task Force comprised of the following members:

Co-Chairs:

  • Mike Nelson (Edmonds City Councilmember) and
  • Jim Orvis (Port of Edmonds).

Members: 

  • Cadence Clyborne (Edmonds resident)
  • Lorena Eng (WSDOT)
  • Kirk Greiner (Edmonds resident)
  • Lynne Griffith (WSDOT – Ferries Division)
  • Phil Lovell (Edmonds resident)
  • Jodi Mitchell (Sound Transit)
  • Joy Munkers (Community Transit)
  • Rick Wagner (BNSF)
  • Joined by City of Edmonds staff members Rob English (City Engineer), and Patrick Doherty (Director of Economic Development and Community Services)

Over the ensuing months, with the professional work of a consultant team, guided by the Advisory Task Force and City staff, the City intends to study several alternatives that could address these at-grade crossing issues, which includes an emphasis on considering near-term approaches to provide emergency access as well. This process will include an ambitious, proactive effort to reach out to and engage the public.

This webpage will provide a schedule of Advisory Task Force meetings, meeting summaries, notices of public-involvement opportunities, and information produced during the alternatives analysis process.

Project Schedule and Meetings

Project Materials & Reports