Council committee hammers out scope of work for waterfront connector design process

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The scope of work for the Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector Project design was discussed in great detail during the Edmonds City Council’s Parks, Planning and Public Works (PPP) Committee meeting Tuesday night.

The nearly-two-hour-long committee discussion followed a full two-and-a-half-hour business meeting that included 2018 budget presentations from several department directors, presentations from two finalists for the Edmonds Marsh baseline study and two public hearings — one on the city’s 2018 budget and one regarding a proposed 1 percent increase in property taxes and 1 percent increase in EMS taxes.

Council committee member Kristiana Johnson had myriad questions for Public Works Director Phil Williams about the scope of work for the connector project design, including how many public and stakeholder meetings will be involved, who will be attending, how comments will be recorded and how those will be reported back to the council.

Johnson also reiterated the importance of ensuring that a public meeting is held to review a report from consultant Parametrix on six feasible bridge options for the connector design. Another public meeting will be held after the consultant develops its final two alternatives for consideration.

The connector project is an overpass linking Sunset Avenue at Edmonds Street to Brackett’s Landing Park, providing an emergency, single-lane structure over the railroad tracks as an alternative to the at-grade rail crossings at Main and Dayton Streets. This approximately $29 million project will provide access for emergency vehicles, as well as ferry off-loading or on-loading with the assistance of traffic control officers when train breakdowns block the two crossings.

The design process goal, according to supporting documentation attached to the committee agenda, is for the city and stakeholders to identify the project’s “visual and functional requirements, opportunities, issues, constraints and goals.”

The state Legislature earlier this year approved initial project funding of $700,000 for continued design, environmental and permitting work for the waterfront connector project. The project is also receiving $295,000 in matching local funds from the City of Edmonds, the Port of Edmonds, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF), Sound Transit and Community Transit. The city still must secure grant funding for the $29 million overpass construction.

Johnson and Council Committee Chair Neil Tibbott agreed that the council could likely find design phase budget money if additional public meetings on the connector project, in addition to the two included in the scope of work, were necessary.

“If we need extra public involvement…it’s small potatoes next to all this,” Johnson said, pointing to dozens of other meetings outlined in the proposal that involved separate stakeholders in the project, including public agencies and the BNSF Railroad.

The connector project proposal followed a 14-month alternatives study spearheaded by the Mayor’s Waterfront Access Advisory Task Force, which was followed by four public meetings before final recommendations were made.

Assuming that all requested changes can be incorporated in time, a proposal to authorize Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling to sign a professional services agreement with Parametrix will appear on the consent agenda during the next city council meeting.

In other agenda items, the council:

  • Discussed a proposed ordinance for a 1 percent property tax levy of $10,378,930 and a 1 percent Emergency Medical Services property tax levy of $4,040,700. Under the increases, the owner of a home assessed at an “average” value in Edmonds of $474,800 would pay an additional $8.23 a year in 2018. You can see James’ presentation on the proposed increases here. The council held a public hearing on the increase although no one showed up to offer comment. Citizens will have a another chance at next week’s council meeting, when councilmembers will be asked to deliberate and vote on the proposals.
  • Heard 2018 budget presentations from several city departments. A public hearing was also held on the proposed city budget and one citizen offered testimony. Joe Scordino, a retired fisheries biologist who serves as advisor for Edmonds-Woodway High School’s Students Saving Salmon Club, thanked the city council for continuing to fund the club’s work to improve local stream water quality and salmon habitat. Additional public comment on the budget will be taken during another public hearing Nov. 21.
  • Listened to Mayor Earling proclaim Nov. 25 — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — as Small Business Saturday in Edmonds. Local small business representatives — including Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association President Tracy Felix, Edmonds Downtown Alliance Board Member Kimberly Koenig and Edmonds Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Greg Urban — accepted the proclamation from Earling. Felix thanked the city council for its support, noting that “it is small business that drives the local economy.” She suggested that Small Business Saturday could be extended throughout the year if everyone would pick three businesses they care about and then spend $50 a month at one of them.
    Earling began the meeting by commenting on a recent situation at an Edmonds construction site, where two African American apprentice workers quit in late October after discovering a noose hanging from a beam. “I find this incident abhorrent, offensive and entirely beneath the expectations we have in our community,” the mayor said. “We simply cannot tolerate this kind of conduct in Edmonds.” Earling noted that the Edmonds Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation of the issue, “which continues to this date.”

— By Teresa Wippel

 

 

23 COMMENTS

  1. Approaching the anniversary of when the City Council decreased the staffing of the fire department within the city limits, I find it comical that they are still floundering with the overpass connector project and looking to raise the EMS Levy.

    Edmonds Waterfront Connector Project: This is a great idea and has been slow moving for many years. When there is a long train or a train that blocks both crossings and there is no way for emergency responders to cross to the other side. Now since they have dropped staffing in the fire service in the city by two firefighters, and one responding unit. There might not be any responding fire/medical to cross the tracks. This is what happens when you run the fire department like a business to cut costs! This project should move with a tail wind, and staffing levels should be brought back to support this project.

    Raising the EMS levy?? What are we paying for?? Edmond’s had a long running with a dedicated medic unit in the city, and a staffing of 12 firefighter/EMT’s or Paramedics around the clock. In December of 2016 the Council (CM Nelson voting no) and the Mayor approved to lower the staffing levels to 9. And now they want to raise the EMS levy? Would this bring back our staffing models pre 2017?

    • I believe that a 1% increase in the EMS levy is needed, as the city’s expense for fire service is increasing more than that amount.

  2. Thank you Peter.

    This is another boondoggle to attempt to capitalize on property value increases. This time, in the name of EMS services. If the city leaders, just re-elected, truly cared about the safety of Edmonds citizens, funding our police and fire resources would be an untouchable fund.

    We just completed elections and not a single candidate wanted to confront the incumbents on their spending choices and benefits to the city of Edmonds. Now that new 4 year terms are in place, the hands are out.

    We were told a couple of weeks ago the city needs $155M to complete the ADA work we haven’t for years. Guarantee, there will be a new levy introduced with another clever name to influence people to approve. But, no accountability for how we got so far behind. Just blame on past administrations, staff and the racial make up of the city.

    Poor planning by this council and previous councils should not be rewarded with more money. They should be forced to explain the fiscal decisions in the past, how they have mitigated risks with those decision processes and how we will not face them again.

  3. 29 MILLION DOLLARS!! is simply shameful……..Considering that in 100 years, there has hardly been a major problem right here at this crossing in Edmonds….records easy to check ………I would like to know who all the “stakeholders” are……It appears that at least one entity is a New building that will be going up (and private!) at 3rd & Edmonds……..the name will be something along the lines of beach walk apartments…………something like that, correct me if I’m wrong……For 29 Million Dollars, it seems like that entity will gain the most…..and then there is the building of this…….$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$….and other entities that will PROFIT from this – I am thinking of all the council meetings regarding this crossing when the Sunset (we see it now, I rest my case….cracked and marked asphalt, nothing else!!! and ALL those meetings and those drawings, beautiful drawings!) Avenue Project was going to be a” corridor to the beach”…….to connect Sunset to the beach – I just have to say Baloney……..and to disrupt this fragile landscape right here is incredible ……This picture very similar to the ones that showed what Sunset Avenue would look like (the Sunset Avenue Project with Phil Williams et al)…….Probably the same company…….somebody making profits for basically doing nothing …..again, look at Sunset Avenue……incredible, for those that SAW the original drawings. Twenty nine million dollars could be used for the many, many people that are in need of food and shelter right now as winter closes in…… And now, when I see WHO is the chairman of this, I suspect this will be touted as a walkway to the beach from entities a few blocks further east……..Fresh govt. people here instead of people that keep putting these millions and millions of dollars plans out there for this little town…….40,000. There are many crossings across our country that Do Have REAL emergency issues, and this money should be allowed for them, not for this pie in the sky for private parties here. and one other thing I would like to add, it is interesting that the govt. here pits neighbors against neighbors in Edmonds, just like it did in regards to the Sunset Avenue Project…….now, we are being called Aristocrats….and something along the lines of building a wall, and we have cleaning ladies (gee, I wish….)……Where does this Baloney emanate from?……..Right from the top……It is branding and a method used for entities to get their way, and the millions and this is also shameful! and one other thing I would like to add, it is interesting that the govt. here pits neighbors against neighbors in Edmonds, just like it did in regards to the Sunset Avenue Project…….now, we are being called Aristocrats….and something along the lines of building a wall, and we have cleaning ladies (gee, I wish….)……Where does this Baloney emanate from?……..Right from the top……It is branding and a method used for entities to get their way, and the millions and this is also shamefu!…Maybe spend some money and fix a few of our most pot hole ridden and dangerous streets for winter

    • And do I need to REMIND all, that we need to take a very CLOSE look at our local elections………………….Soooooooooonce again, , I just happened to be sitting in a cafe at a street-sidewindow yesterday morning, minding my own business(AGAIN!!!) (the cafe is next to Edmonds City Hall) and low behold but our Mayor is walking to get his usual coffee at another close business…….Here I am minding my own business, and this man makes a jesture through the window at me in regards to someone hiding their face……..(hand against the side of his face as though he was trying to hide himself)…………and then comes the LAUGHING – Here I am minding my own business and here is this person, a government official for this small town, making a joke in reference to something I actually witnessed a couple weeks ago in regards to what appeared to us to be election fraud talking, in our opinion from what we heard!…….don’t shoot the messenger, please……….

      .I grew up believing that our elections and voting were two very sacred things in the United States of America – our democracy – Our honest elections are the bedrock of our democracy ……….and here is the mayor of our little town making a joke (and at this time while so much going on in the other Washington)……I see no joke here, and I certainly question a government official joking about what unfolded in that other just outside of Edmonds, Wa. cafe……..I wonder what Mayor they were referring to……..????….It would not be the first time in Edmonds that we have watched election fraud unfold in our opinion – I just have to say, is this ???? the United States of America – the Beacon of Light to the WORLD, or are we now some kind of shoot from the hips third world country………Anybody that knows well the history of South America and dictatorships, would question this…….The above is all my opinion and what I witnessed first hand, just sitting there minding my own business.

        • Thanks — a good reminder. I have been trying to give people the benefit of the doubt on this rule and will go in and lower case when necessary…but long-time posters know about the policy. I will start unapproving comments if folks continue to violate it.

  4. If the image of the ambulance were replaced with ferry traffic, the public may be more swayed to a different funding source. I appreciate that the use of the bridge to somewhere is for “train breakdowns” which block both crossings. Therefore, a delay in emergency response incurred due to a moving train blocking both crossings is not what is at issue.

    I’d rather pay small money into a victim compensation fund which may never be paid out than fund the bridge to wherever. As someone who eats, shops and plays on the west side of the tracks, if I died as a result of emergency responders being unable to come to my aid due to a train breakdown blocking both crossings, I suspect my family could accept a $10M payout from a victim compensation fund. As for who would contribute to that fund, that may be up for debate.

    Alternatively, for less than $29,000,000.00 we could probably purchase a fire engine, police cruiser, and first aid vehicle, lease property in the parking lot on the west side of the southern crossing, and build a garage structure. Then, in the rare event that an emergency response is required at the same time that a train breakdown blocks both crossings, emergency responders could arrive at the stopped train, carry whatever gear they needed between the cars, and continue their response.

    In the meantime, the ferry can either return to Kingston or offload at Mukilteo, no different than it would have to today.

  5. This year’s increases…

    1. 10.3 % Sales Tax
    2. Utility rate increases
    3. State Education Property Tax increases per McCleary decision (effective 2018)
    4. ST3 (auto, sales, and property tax increases)
    5. And Now….

    A proposed 1% EMS increase…

    Are private salary increases keeping up with the annual percentage increase requirements [WinkWink] of WA state and local governments??

  6. It would be quicker and less expensive for the Port to build and auxiliary fire station with a rooftop heliport. The Port could then have a bigger role in the safety of customers.

  7. Be careful everyone! There is not a citizen or visitor to Edmonds unwilling to ensure the safety of any one west of the BNSF tracks. These studies and proposed solutions only benefit those associated with government and it’s contractor’s.

    The real answer is within technology. If our emergency services vehicles can automatically trigger stop lights to enhance their ability to respond to emergencies in a timely matter, are we to believe our first responders cannot electronically trigger a sensor to BNSF to stop train?. (Either from the current 911 center or if an emergency vehicle is parked in a position to trigger the same signal they do for traffic lights)

    Can anyone produce statistics regarding the number of incidents in which first responders couldn’t reach their victims in time to prevent death or further injury, due to the length of time for a long train to pass through downtown vs. total number of responses west of the BNSF tracks?

    This is all another boondoggle to spend way too much money for a solution already on place.

    How about if the city pay me the money already spent and plans to spend? I’ll bring a team to the table to integrate Edmonds first responder technology with BNSF technology?

    I can’t be the only person that see’s this for what it is…a money grab.

    • At one of the City Council meetings regarding this bridge and emergency safety , a citizen from Edmonds that spent a working life at one of the biggest hospitals emergency rooms in Seattle laid out exactly what that hospital did for every emergency that was headed their way. It was very simple……..and is used by most hospitals to make sure people DON’T DIE. That this has gone to a whole level of we need millions upon millions is simply ridiculous. ….We need a new team of new government at the table regarding the spending of our monies. There are areas at the crossing at tracks of other cities that may really need these grants. This is not the first time this government has taken monies away from other entities that actually have a real problem, in my opinion. We also need to pay attention to those companies that keep facilitating this government with this type of business. I believe it is a Federal offense to not be totally honest on those grant forms. This was pointed out for the Sunset project and for the round-a-bout project. Yes, a “money grab” and to me it is shameful as it is taking money away from entities in our country that really need the grants for safety purposes.

  8. For those railing against this plan for lack of need and/or the specter of government waste and for those connecting all the dots, so to speak, of election and project fraud, I suggest spending a little time at this site:

    http://www.edmondswa.gov/community-services/alternatives-analysis.html

    Trains cannot stop on a dime, and one of the most horrific ways to block the crossings is suicide-by-train, which accounts for a significant share of annual train-pedestrian fatalities. Just a few years ago, access to the west side of the tracks evaporated for 3 or 4 hours after an individual walked directly into a train going north along Sunset Ave. I remember the Coast Guard posting a fireboat at the Edmonds waterfront during this shutdown as a precaution. The marina is an excellent source of risk with dozens of gasoline-filled wooden and Fiberglas boats. In addition to enormous potential property losses from the lack of response resources during an event, it takes just a few lives at $10 million a pop (if that’s the value of YOUR life) to make up the project cost. Derailments entail an even more prolonged shutdown, if one looks at risk from that perspective.

    It is illegal to cross the tracks except when allowed and only at designated places, and asserting that responders can jump over a stopped train and run to some location where equipment is located is not well-considered. This means we would need to tell police and firefighters to break the law as a job requirement. Also, where would this equipment get proper all-season storage, and what does it cost to purchase, build, and maintain this storage? Who pays for the duplicated equipment and the ongoing costs of keeping it tested and ready for immediate use?

    It turns out that the BNSF is the entity that really holds the cards here on what is achievable, thanks to federal regulations covering railroad right-of-way, so there is no way to force it to do anything to mitigate the situation. I doubt the BNSF would even begin to entertain an untested and unknown electronic solution as suggested without years of vetting showing it is safe and effective. Besides, what’s in it for the BNSF to mess with train schedules, even if only due to necessary and regular testing of such a system?

    In an ideal world, the new Edmonds Ferry Terminal would have been moving well ahead today as was planned before the economic downturn of 2008-09, and this discussion would be moot. Because there is no plan to move forward with this terminal, and its cost makes $29 million look like pocket change, this solution represents the best answer now for a risk that continues to grow.

  9. Hi Mr. Steven’s, I appreciate your post.

    I’m having a tough time following your logic:

    * “For those railing against this plan for lack of need” – I again ask for factual statistics regarding the number of incidents in which first responders couldn’t reach their victims in time to prevent death or further injury, due to the length of time for a long train to pass through downtown or move to accommodate first responders vs. total number of responses west of the BNSF tracks?

    * “and/or the specter of government waste” – How much money has already been spent on consulting, studies and environmental impact assessments? Could this money have been better spent partnering with EMS technology teams and BNSF technology teams to find a solution?

    * “and for those connecting all the dots, so to speak, of election and project fraud” – Come on, it is a government capital project being decided. When is the last time you saw a government capital project come in on time or under budget?

    Your trains stopping on a dime and suicide by train argument is also confusing;
    * “Trains cannot stop on a dime, and one of the most horrific ways to block the crossings is suicide-by-train, which accounts for a significant share of annual train-pedestrian fatalities.” – Nobody said they could and most adults realize this fact. Do you realize all trains running up and down these tracks are dispatched, started and stopped by a control center thousand of miles away from Edmonds? There is a chain of communication a mile long that occurs after an event of the significance our EMS teams communicates to stop all trains.

    * “It is illegal to cross the tracks except when allowed and only at designated places, and asserting that responders can jump over a stopped train and run to some location where equipment is located is not well-considered.” – Nobody asserted EMS responders should be able to jump over a stopped train. Secondly, it is illegal to run stop signs, it is illegal to drink & drive, it is illegal to park in a handicapped spot. Do people do it daily or a regular basis? So, good luck with he “illegal to cross tracks argument”.

    * “I doubt the BNSF would even begin to entertain an untested and unknown electronic solution as suggested without years of vetting showing it is safe and effective.” – If you seriously think BNSF (Warren Buffett), Microsoft (Bill Gates), Apple, Google, Cisco, on and on haven’t already been looking a the next generation solutions to transportation/shipping issues with rail, I invite you to spend a little time on Google? Choo Choo trains as we know them are going to be a thing of the past within 20 years, if not sooner. Think about it, BNSF owns millions of miles of steel traversing the most equitable land for the delivery of information and goods. Do you not think all “Choo Choo trains” will be electronically controlled and integrated with everything?

    • 1) No incidents have occurred, else there would be no discussion here. My analysis centers on risk. Just because a major earthquake has not occurred here in our memories doesn’t mean it’s imprudent to take steps to mitigate the risk. If one takes the time to read the info at the website I referenced, it is easy to understand this train-related risk is rising.

      2) I don’t know the answer to the question at the end here, or if there is an answer that can be proven correct. I think the attractive answer is that which best serves the assumptions and beliefs one brings to hearing it.

      3) The last time I saw a government capital project meet these conditions is when I was the project manager. I acted in this capacity over roughly 25 years for state and local governments and 97% of these projects met time and budget goals. The sad fact is that our news systems target the failures and leave the public easily to conclude it’s all a waste. Good news does not sell, but the nasty stuff is all over front page.

      4) The point behind saying that trains cannot stop quickly is that there is nothing to reverse the laws of physics that tell us it may just as well be too late to stop a train from a problem even when a good distance away. This one is simply up to fate to decide vs. building a route that takes trains out of the equation.

      5) This echoes something akin to what Rom Wambolt has already said about never being able to outspend dumb mistakes, or poor choices. It is one thing for people to decide individually to ignore the law, whether that’s running a stop sign or walking the tracks. From a risk management perspective, it would be foolish for an employer to tell employees that they must break the law, and somebody did say this in this thread. My statements were in response to a number of folks, e.g., the comment about a life being worth a flat $10 million and the one about connecting the many, many dots of fraud.

      6) I am plenty familiar with Google and other search engines and use them daily. Twenty years is a long time to see into what’s to come. Someone once quipped that the future is not what it used to be, and a twenty-year period might or might not be long enough to design and vet the envisioned control system. I don’t have the inside track, so to speak, on how Buffett, Gates, Cook, Bezos, etc., plan to change railroad controls or integration, but I do know drones won’t soon replace the long lines of freight cars carrying heavy loads of commodities across distances over the land because of the economics. So, the potential for a stalled or derailed train across Main and Dayton won’t disappear via controls strategies alone.

  10. I recall an incident about 20 years ago where a train hit a woman who was walking her dog on the tracks south of the dog park. The train blocked the two crossings for about four hours. Work on double tracking the line had not started, so the present roadway (where the second mainline will someday be) was not present and emergency responders could not reach the woman by vehicle.

    The woman was eventually strapped to a gurney that was strapped to the front walkway “platform” of the lead engine. The train backed up to Dayton St. where she could be removed. I was standing at the Dayton St. crossing for a while where I witnessed many people climbing over and under the train to get to the other side of the tracks.

    • “I recall an incident about 20 years ago where a train hit a woman who was walking her dog on the tracks south of the dog park.” There’s not enough money to protect people from making dumb mistakes.

  11. It seems that the discussion about the scope of the project is missing. The proposed walkway overpass is expensive beyond all reason. But there does need to be an emergency crossing or a way to get injured folks to help. For the money spent on the design of the proposed connector, it would be entirely possible to build and staff an emergency facility on the water side of the tracks for many many years. Not considered in the proposal at all is the increased pedestrian traffic ( and parked cars) for folks who will now be able to directly walk down to the beach from Sunset. What impact will that have on that ecosystem and “marine sanctuary” ?

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