Commentary: Edmonds Train Trench for a better future
As most of our citizens know, Edmonds is already experiencing and will be facing much greater civic problems concentrated in the waterfront area, but affecting the entire town’s safety, desirability, quality of life and property values from rapidly increasing freight train traffic.
Not everyone knows that BNSF railroad plans to connect its double track just north and south of downtown into a double or triple track through Edmonds as soon as possible. As discussed by the mayor and others, this will have an increasingly detrimental effect on public safety, emergency access, ferry and traffic conflicts and delays, noise from train horns, property values, downtown business prosperity, danger from toxic, explosive and flammable cargo accidents, the ability to enjoy our waterfront, and tourism.
The Edmonds Train Trench, fully shown and discussed at the new website, EdmondsTrainTrench.net, that was introduced at the last City Council meeting to the citizens of Edmonds, is the ONLY solution ever proposed that solves ALL of the problems above and more, plus uniquely beautifies Edmonds in the process without changing its surface. A train trench is the preferred solution in a large number of high-value towns throughout the country – It turns all of the negatives into a positive.
One of the important aspects of this plan is that it is entirely neutral in that it solves our present and future conflict problems, creating an enhanced “canvas” for any plan to preserve, beautify and attract further tourism. It also creates more valuable property for those who feel development is important, leaving those decisions to be made on a newly more attractive and safer Edmonds waterfront background and making the results of the Edmonds Train Trench a huge boost to any future plan.
The combination of factors now makes this a crucial tipping point where we must address the problems to protect the waterfront, our signature asset. The existence of a complete overall solution that likely costs less than anything previously proposed, the Edmonds Train Trench proposal offers the opportunity that already put together the needed partnerships to transform to build a train trench that leaves the surface streets intact, visually undisturbed and fully functional.
This plan was first presented to the entire city government two years ago, but several of the councilmembers have now encouraged us to make it public to widen the conversation and demonstrate how valuable this plan would be for Edmonds. In all of the presentations to our city and to other civic leaders and citizens, the only concern expressed is about whether it can be done so near and partially below water, and at what cost. As the website shows, below water level and shoreline train trenches have been built nearby, so feasibility is highly likely.
As far as cost, both Northwest train trenches highlighted on the site had major financial support of the railroad because of their interests ($60 million for Reno), with transportation funds (as the recent $120 million for the Mukilteo ferry parking changes), and, in our case, Washington State Ferries and other stakeholders’ contributions. Finally, the Edmonds Train Trench, based on a comparison of size and complexity to the others mentioned, and its lack of a major structural bridge or tunnel, is likely to be a fraction of the cost of any previous Edmonds traffic conflict project proposed, and we will soon have an experienced national West Coast below-waterline trench engineering and construction firm give us a firmer estimate and design detail.
For now, we urge ALL citizens of Edmonds who have a stake in its future welfare and quality of life, to go to Edmondstraintrench.net, look it over carefully, post any questions or info, and sign the petition to let the city government know that you want them to thoroughly explore this elegantly simple plan. This is NOT a 20-year idea — It must be coordinated with BNSF’s double tracking, our emergency needs, etc. starting now with the goal of breaking ground in two years. In the meantime, we are suggesting an interim satellite EMS station in a vacant office on the waterfront with a rotating EMS truck and personnel from current inventory.
The 18-page website contains a great deal information on every aspect, as well as more illustrations.
See you on the website and at Events TBA.
— Submitted by Chuck and Katherine Gold, Edmonds