Citizens, officials agree: waterfront access needed

“We (the ferry system) don’t have the money. The city doesn’t have the money. Private industry does not have the money.
By Pat Ratliff | Jul 12, 2012
Photos by: Pat Ratliff Mayor Dave Earling led a coalition of state officials, city officials, seniors, emergency services providers and community groups in calling for an underpass under the train tracks in Edmonds to give access to emergency providers, citizens and ferry passengers.

More than 250 residents showed up for a “Don’t Block Our Beach” rally at Brackett’s Landing South Wednesday morning to demonstrate their concerns about increased train traffic through Edmonds.

A coalition of emergency responders, city officials, state legislators, port officials, business and community leaders, and state transportation leaders led by Mayor Dave Earling, want to protect critical emergency, commercial and pedestrian access to the Edmonds waterfront.

They are concerned that Edmonds’ beaches, the ferry landing, the marina, dive park, and the senior center will be blocked due to a large projected increase in rail traffic.

That traffic includes a significant increase in coal trains, which they say would more than double the amount of train delays along the Edmonds waterfront.

They want to facilitate a mitigation process between local, state and federal leaders to address the at-grade crossing conflict between trains, Washington State Ferries and the safety needs of Edmonds.

It is projected that more than 100 railroad trains a day will go through Edmonds by 2030.

“We need to start working on this now,” Earling told the crowd. “If we wait until 2030, we’ll be a long way behind.”

One of the issues is safety. A heart attack victim waiting for emergency responders, who are waiting for a mile long train to pass to get access to the waterfront, Earling said, might have disastrous results.

Many Edmonds City Council members agree. Council President Strom Peterson, as well as council members Diane Buckshnis, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Frank Yammamoto, and Kristiana Johnson were all present to lend support.

“We know our No. 1 job is public safety,” Peterson said.

Rose Cantwell, former president of the Edmonds Seniors, agreed.

“How can we expect our public servants to perform their services without complete access to the waterfront?” she asked.

Marko Liias, 21st District representative, noted that millions of cars per year pass through Edmonds to board the ferry.

“We also need vital transportation links for the rest of us (besides emergency services),” he said. “Regardless of whether we have coal trains or not, we need a solution to this transportation problem.”

David Moseley, assistant secretary of WSDOT Ferries, said the Edmonds terminal is the second busiest in the system, with more than 4 million people using the ferry per year.

“This isn’t a future issue,” he said. “This is a current issue and will require a partnership.

“We (the ferry system) don’t have the money. The city doesn’t have the money. Private industry does not have the money.

“It will take all of us working together.”

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