The Edmonds Library’s Plaza Room was filled with citizens expressing a variety of viewpoints about train traffic along the Edmonds waterfront, as well as the broader question of the forces behind at least some of that increased traffic, such as coal and oil trains, during Mayor Dave Earling’s Town Hall meeting on the topic Thursday night.
Earling set ground rules for good behavior at the beginning of the meeting, which included six speakers representing a variety of interests, from the BNSF Railroad to SSA Marine, which has proposed a coal terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham, to environmental organization Climate Solutions to the Puget Sound Regional Council. The crowd of attendees mostly followed his request, although there were a few audible groans in the audience when railroad and coal terminal representatives spoke.
Indeed, much of the conversation was focused on the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, with some testy exchanges between environmental and industry interests. But there were some impassioned pleas from those who live near the train tracks, asking for assurances of safety in light of predicted increases in train traffic, which includes a growing number of oil and coal trains.
These resources were recommended for further study:
The Puget Sound Regional Council’s evaluation of the economic effects of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) on King, Kitsap, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.
The Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine & Rail Oil Transportation Study Preliminary Findings and Recommendations.
A video recording of the entire meeting has been posted on My Edmonds News TV here.
Earling shared two things that the city is hoping to do to address citizen concerns about the issue:
– Edmonds is seeking $1 million to $1.25 million from state or federal sources to conduct an alternatives analysis of options for improving access at the city’s two at-grade rail crossings — at Dayton and Main Streets.
– The mayor said he has included in the 2015 budget (to be presented to the city council next week) $50,000 for engineering and design work for a trackside warning system, which would reduce the frequency of train whistles.
Fire District 1 Chief Ed Widdis was also in attendance, and spoke about the public safety aspect of having train traffic separate the waterfront from the rest of Edmonds during an emergency situation.
“We really want to be able to have a way to get across the tracks when the trains are stopped,” Widdis said.