Waterfront access plan expected by November

Ferry overpass on Main gets negative reaction at open house
By Brian Soergel | Sep 28, 2016
Courtesy of: Tetra Tech Waterfront access images was prepared for each of three categories of alternatives by Tetra Tech, which the city of Edmonds hired for analysis. The rendered alternatives were those that scored highest within each category. Pictured here is the Main Street overpass, minimum build.

In April, a pedestrian fatality on the railroad tracks in Edmonds shut down access to the Edmonds waterfront for nearly three hours. Police closed both Main and Dayton street crossings. There were two medical emergencies during this time – a pregnant woman and an injured child.

Before the fire department could respond, it was forced to get permission from the railroad before rescuers could climb through a rail car.

And those waiting to load or unload on a ferry? Forget about it. Edmonds’ ferry terminal is the last remaining location in the state where ferry loading is across at-grade train tracks.

Yes, it’s time for a solution to the waterfront access problem in Edmonds.

On Thursday, Sept. 22, at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Mayor’s Advisory Task Force studying at-grade rail crossing alternatives could further narrow the list of possible scenarios.

The task force is made up of representatives from the city, Port of Edmonds, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit and Community Transit.

It’s charged with making a recommendation to Mayor Dave Earling, possibly by mid-October. Earling will in turn recommend one to City Council sometime in November, Economic Development and Community Services Director and task force member Patrick Doherty said.

Eleven proposals broken down into three general categories were presented to the public last week at a second and last open house.

Alternatives were presented by Edmonds resident and former member of the city’s Architectural Design Review Board, Rich Schaefer of Tetra Tech, a company conducting a waterfront access analysis.

“There was no clear public consensus evident during the meetings, although I believe the ferry overpass alternatives at Main Street received the most negative comments,” Doherty said.

City Councilmember and task force co-chairman Mike Nelson said the purpose of the Edmonds Waterfront Access Study is to identify short-term and long-term solutions for the rail crossings at Main and Dayton in order to provide safe, reliable and efficient access for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists between downtown Edmonds and the waterfront.

“As the rail traffic increases, the number and duration of railroad crossing closures will increase, further isolating folks on the waterfront from downtown Edmonds, emergency services, transit connections, and interrupting vehicle on/off loading operations at the ferry terminal.”

Nelson said there are about 40 trains passing through Edmonds daily – with possibly 100 per day by 2030 – creating a total delay of 80 minutes for those walking, biking and driving across the city’s two railroad crossings.

“Keep in mind, the Edmonds-Kingston ferry route is the second busiest in the state, serving more than four million riders a year. At the Main Street crossing alone, train delays impact 709 vehicles and 115 pedestrians every day.”

Nelson said the delay of emergency services to citizens is his biggest concern. He said there were 299 fire and emergency calls to the waterfront between July 2010 and December 2015.

“Delayed emergency responses of several minutes are not uncommon, and when someone is having a serious medical or fire emergency, every minute matters,” he said. “We need to have a more reliable way to respond to emergencies along the waterfront.

“The bottom line is we know that train traffic will increase dramatically in the coming years and so will the delays and the emergencies. Whatever solutions we recommend will take years or decades to build, so we need to start now.”

More information: www.edmondswaterfrontaccess.publicmeeting.info.

What will waterfront access look like?

The 11 alternatives fall under three categories:

• emergency access by foot;

• emergency vehicle access; and

• emergency vehicle access and ferry load/unload.

Here are descriptions of the Alternatives and Pros/Cons of each, supplied by the Task Force. Some of these may look familiar: Edmonds Crossing, anyone?

EMERGENCY ACCESS BY FOOT

MIDBLOCK OVERPASS

• Pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks in the vicinity of the train station and Senior Center, with an aid car stationed on Waterfront

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Affordable, with minimal construction disruption and duration

• Improves safe intermodal connections to both sides of railroad tracks

• Minimal view impacts due to surrounding buildings

Challenges

• Emergency responders must cross over railroad tracks on foot to access aid car stationed west of tracks

• Site for aid car garage

MAIN STREET OVERPASS

• Pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks next to Main Street from Transit Center to overhead passenger ramp at ferry dock, with an aid car stationed on waterfront

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Most convenient for ferry commuters and Main Street pedestrian traffic

• Affordable, with minimal construction disruption and duration

• Improves safe intermodal connections to both sides of railroad tracks

Challenges

• Emergency responders must cross over railroad tracks on foot to access aid car stationed west of tracks

• Site for aid car garage

• Affects views, but with minimal impacts in vicinity of ferry and other transportation structures

MAIN STREET UNDERPASS

• Pedestrian underpass below railroad tracks near Main Street from Transit Center to Railroad Avenue/Brackett’s Landing South, with an aid car stationed on waterfront

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Below grade, no view impact

• Convenient for ferry commuters

• Improves safe intermodal connections to both sides of railroad tracks

Challenges

• Emergency responders must cross under railroad tracks on foot to access aid car stationed west of tracks

• Site for aid car garage

• Below-grade passageways are uninviting and may be less used

• Pumping required for stormwater and groundwater control

EMERGENCY VEHICLE ACCESS

ADMIRAL WAY OVERPASS

• Bridge over railroad tracks and Willow Creek from Unocal site to Admiral Way

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA, aid car, fire truck, emergency ferry offload, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and firetruck to south end of waterfront

• Creates pedestrian/bicycle connection around south end of Edmonds Marsh

• Provides for emergency ferry offloading during extended rail crossing closures

• Construction impacts are relatively limited

Challenges

• Does not reduce conflicts between pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles, and trains

• Does not improve intermodal passenger safety or efficiency

• Displaces property designated for development within the Port of Edmonds

• Long route for emergency response to most of waterfront

DAYTON STREET OVERPASS

• Bridge over railroad tracks from Sunset/Dayton intersection to Admiral Way

• Access: pedestrians, bicycle, ADA, aid car, fire truck, emergency ferry offload, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and firetruck to center of waterfront

• Provides for emergency ferry offloading during extended rail crossing closures

• Emergency evacuation route from center of waterfront

Challenges

• Does not reduce conflicts between pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles and trains

• Does not improve intermodal passenger safety or efficiency

• Displaces commercial property at Salish Crossing and property designated for development within the Port of Edmonds

EDMONDS STREET OVERPASS

• Bridge from Sunset Avenue/Edmonds Street intersection to Railroad Avenue/Main Street

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, emergency ferry offload, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront – four blocks from station

• Lowest cost and view impacts of emergency access alternatives

• Provides for emergency ferry offloading during extended rail crossing closures

• Creates pedestrian/bicycle connection from waterfront to Sunset Avenue and to bicycle commute routes

Challenges

• Does not reduce conflicts between most pedestrians and bicycles with vehicles and trains

• Ramp would land within Brackett’s Landing and supporting columns would be within shoreline zone

• Guardrails at upper end of ramp would be visible from Sunset Avenue

EMERGENCY VEHICLE ACCESS AND FERRY LOAD/UNLOAD

DAYTON STREET NEW FERRY TERMINAL

• Relocates ferry terminal to Dayton Street, constructs parking garage for ferry vehicle queuing, commuter parking, and bus transit center with bridge over railroad tracks and Railroad Avenue to ferries and emergency access ramp

Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, ferry vehicle loading/ offloading, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront

• Separates ferry vehicle traffic from downtown streets, reducing conflicts and delays

• Allows redevelopment of existing ferry dock facilities and Main Street/Sunset Avenue corridor

• Allows construction without impeding ongoing ferry operations

Challenges

• Displaces Olympic Beach Park with ferry dock adjacent to Fishing Pier

• Displaces office building, and much of the Port’s Harbor Square property

• View impacts along Dayton Street corridor and waterfront

• Relatively high construction cost and permitting effort

MAIN STREET FERRY OVERPASS (FULL BUILD)

• Constructs bridge over Main Street, Sunset Avenue, railroad tracks and Railroad Avenue to ferries and emergency access ramp

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, ferry vehicle loading/ offloading, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront

• Separates ferry vehicle traffic from downtown streets, reducing conflicts and delays

• Increases ferry queuing capacity to 305 vehicles and reduces delays to ferry loading/offloading

Challenges

• View obstructions and community impacts along Main Street and the ferry holding lanes on Sunset Avenue

• Extended construction duration and staging/phasing to maintain ferry operations

• Dislocates business properties for right-of-way

MAIN STREET FERRY OVERPASS (MINIMUM BUILD)

• Constructs bridge over Main Street, Sunset Avenue, railroad tracks and Railroad Avenue to ferries and emergency access ramp

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, ferry vehicle loading/ offloading, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront

• Separates ferry vehicle traffic from downtown streets, reducing conflicts and delays

• Maintains ferry queuing capacity of 184 vehicles and reduces delays to ferry loading/offloading

Challenges

• View obstructions and community impacts along Main Street and the ferry holding lanes on Sunset Avenue

• Extended construction duration and staging/phasing to maintain ferry operations

• Dislocates business properties for right-of-way

MAIN STREET FERRY UNDERPASS

• Constructs underpass below Main Street, railroad tracks, and Railroad Avenue to ferries and emergency access ramp

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, ferry vehicle loading/ offloading, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront

• Separates ferry vehicle traffic from downtown streets, reducing conflicts and delays

• Allows redevelopment of existing ferry dock facilities and Main Street/ Sunset Avenue corridor

• Maintains corridor views

• Reduces delays to ferry loading/offloading

Challenges

• Relatively high construction cost

• Extended construction duration and staging/phasing to maintain ferry operations

• Dislocates business property for right-of-way

• Pumping required for stormwater and groundwater control

EDMONDS CROSSING (MINIMUM BUILD)

• Relocates ferry terminal to Unocal site with ferry vehicle queuing and relocated train platforms and bus transit center, with bridge over railroad tracks, Willow Creek, Port, and Marina Beach Park to ferries and emergency access ramp

• Access: pedestrian, bicycle, ADA aid car, fire truck, ferry vehicle loading/ offloading, emergency evacuation

Benefits

• Continuous access for aid car and fire truck to north end of waterfront

• Separates ferry vehicle traffic from downtown streets, reducing conflicts and delays

• Allows redevelopment of existing ferry dock facilities and Main Street/Sunset Avenue corridor

• Allows construction without impeding ongoing ferry operations

Challenges

• Impacts to Marina Beach Park and Port of Edmonds properties

• Relatively high construction cost

• Changes in views from nearby residential areas

• Long route for emergency response to most of waterfront

 

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