Commentary: Edmonds Train Trench for a better future

Katharine Gold, who along with her husband Charles is supporting the idea of a train trench, asked us to substitute this photograph of the concept. "I have reworked the conceptual photograph to make the train and the trench more accurate in scale, as it would be seen standing on Dayton Street looking north to Main Street," Golden said. "The original image makes the trench look much deeper than it would actually be (24.5 ft). "
Katharine Gold, who along with her husband Charles is supporting the idea of an Edmonds Train Trench, asked us to substitute this photograph of the concept. “I have reworked the conceptual photograph to make the train and the trench more accurate in scale, as it would be seen standing on Dayton Street looking north to Main Street,” Golden said. “The original image makes the trench look much deeper than it would actually be (24.5 ft). “

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,, 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, 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

48 Replies to “Commentary: Edmonds Train Trench for a better future”

  1. How will passengers load and unload on the trains so far below? Would it be accessible to handicapped riders? Interesting concept but I wonder if the RR company will approve it and participate in the cost of it.


    1. As discussed and linked on, Reno’s entire trench project cost half of that for a much more complex trench, with archaeology, much greater size and length, many more bridge crossings than our mere two, etc. as shown in the PowerPoint linked on, and the majority was paid by the Union Pacific RR and transportation funding. Mulkiteo recently received $120 million just to improve their ferry waiting area, an amount that would likely more than pay for the entire Edmonds Train Trench, even without the obvious stake holding partners we have for our situation.


      1. Sorry, Union Pacific paid $17 million of the $279.3 million dollar cost of ReTrac.
        And yes, Reno is suffering financially and cannot repay its debts.
        Per the FHWA ( )
        City of Reno bond issues – $111.5 million (backed by hotel room and sales taxes)
        TIFIA loan – $50.5 million (backed by hotel room and sales taxes)
        Union Pacific Railroad – $17 million
        Federal grants – $21.3 million
        Cash, interest earnings, and other income – $79.6 million

        UP provided approx. $5million in early concept engineering support/development to support the FHWA Environmental Impact Documents created. As one of the early opponents of the project, we predicted the City could not get the full project done for the $200 million originally bantered about by Mayor Jeff Griffin and City Manager Charles McNeeley. Using commonly available construction estimates we “guestimated” $400-450 million. Inevitably, the City opted to build a lesser-than-original project, and is now, once again, contemplating what to do with the dead zone it created above the train trench project. Washoe County Commissioner Jim Galloway, Reno Mayoral candidate Mike Robinson, and I, (Reno City Council candidate) Michael Tracy, were fervently convinced the project was not in the best interest of Reno residents, and the County-tax was an over-reach with zero benefit to most Washoe County residents.


    1. You wouldn’t feel that way if you commuted via the ferry. The train tracks at the end of the ferry terminal already are a big problem and could become impossible to overcome soon. Imagine if we have to contend with nearly continuous coal trains.


      1. The crossing gates at Main and Dayton streets close, on average, the following times:

        Sounder and Amtrak – 90 seconds
        Regular manifest freights – 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
        Longer intermodal freights and unit grain trains, both which are as long as the coal trains – 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.
        Oil trains, which tend to be shorter also 3 minutes.
        Coal trains, which are travelling at a reduced speed, roughly 4 minutes.
        Oil trains take as long, since they also travel through the area at reduced speeds.


      2. Does Jeff Griffin (former Reno Mayor) live in Edmonds, and is he telling you you will have nearly continuous coal trains flowing through your community? Griffin swore Reno would see 50-60 trains per day by 2005; in June 2009 there were 12, same as before the Reno Train Trench project; in 2011 I’ve read there were 16. While Griffin was making his claims, opponents frequently noted that Union Pacific RR was investing 2.3Billion in upgrading train systems in Central California to high speed rail standards so they could avoid the slow trek over the Sierra Nevadas through Reno entirely.


  2. From the above representation the railroad tracks appear to be below sea level. With ocean water rising the possibility of building this is close to O.


  3. Visiting the website did not answer the question of funding and debt that Mr Cooper raises. It is not clear where the trains would be rerouted during the construction period. Would that be on railroad avenue and extend thru the port property to the south and over brackets landing parking lot to the north, or would it be on the east of the current track location. Such a shoofly solution would need to go somewhere?

    While it is a great idea to move the train it is hard to understand how that can be done while maintaining existing service for a cost that can be shared in a way to get it done.


    1. Please see the posted replies on the real total cost and lack of problem, actually great satisfaction, with the Reno trench.

      One of the points about coordinating the Trench construction with the double tracking by BNSF is the opportunity for maintaining an open track with a temporary bulkhead, running a temporary track to the side, or temporarily rerouting, as well as other solutions and combinations that are the most cost effective that BNSF decides to use. If double tracking and the Trench are done at the same time, there should be an opportunity for cooperation and cost saving, which would be explored in the study, negotiation and planning phase.


  4. The following is taken from a letter prepared by Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams dated January 22, 2013. The letter can easily be found by doing an internet search for: GPT/BNSF Custer Spur EIS Co-Lead Agencies Williams Edmonds

    The City of Edmonds wishes to provide comment regarding the scope of the subject EIS being prepared by the Department of Ecology (Ecology), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), and Whatcom County as co-lead agencies.

    Edmonds City Council adopted resolution No. 1280 on July 13th, 2012 expressing significant concerns about the potential for increased rail traffic related to the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposed by SSA Marine for Cherry Point in Whatcom County. A copy of that resolution is attached. We ask that it specifically be made a part of the scoping summary report.

    Edmonds has 4 ½ miles of shoreline on Puget Sound. Throughout that distance BNSF operates either a single rail line or a double track system. BNSF is in the process of converting their entire frontage in Edmonds to a double track system but the timing of that project has not been released by BNSF. It would appear, based on information made available to date, that virtually all freight destined for shipment from this proposed terminal would pass through Edmonds on existing BNSF rail lines. This trackage currently handles an average of 45 trains each day, including both freight and passenger trains. Each movement through Edmonds blocks both Dayton and Main streets either in sequence (passenger trains) or simultaneously (freight trains). This existing level of train traffic already creates a number of significant issues for our citizens and visitors.

    Emergency Response

    When a train passes one of Edmonds’ at-grade crossings emergency vehicles must wait for it to clear before a response can be made. This includes law enforcement, fire suppression, and paramedic/ambulance services. The portion of Edmonds cut-off by passing trains includes the Edmonds Senior Center, two City parks, a nationally known dive park, four restaurants, the Port of Edmonds with 897 slips, a busy Dog Park, a sizeable office building, and residential condominiums. Accounting for the average speed of freight and passenger trains through Edmonds and their respective average lengths, this creates a total of approximately 4 ½ hours of blockage each day with more than 90% of that from freight trains. That is 4 ½ hours each day where emergency responders can’t get to those who need their services. This is the current situation. Any further reduction in response times would be unacceptable. Train traffic is estimated to grow from 45 trains per day (TPD) to 70 TPD by 2020 and 104 TPD by 2030. The 9-18 coal trains necessary to supply the proposed terminal analyzed by this EIS is the single biggest, identifiable block of new rail traffic being proposed. Now is the time to analyze the impacts of rail traffic growth on Cities that host BNSF rail lines. There may never be another opportunity to do so. Train traffic is likely to grow slowly over time to the levels cited above. It is quite possible we won’t see another major EIS on a new facility as dependent on rail as this one is. The EIS process for this project needs to thoroughly evaluate the environmental, social, economic, and transportation impacts that are clearly foreseeable when looked at as part of the underlying growth of rail traffic in Washington State. This is an issue of public safety for the City of Edmonds and several other cities in our state.

    Edmonds requests the scope of the EIS include a detailed study of the baseline interference to traffic patterns between trains and vehicle traffic at both Dayton and Main streets and then project the change in those patterns out to the year 2030, including, but not limited to, projected coal train traffic. The study should identify possible alternatives to resolving these conflicts which can be analyzed as possible mitigation for this project.

    Ferry Traffic Interruption

    Edmonds hosts the only remaining location where ferry loading and unloading operations are at grade over BNSF rail lines. This results in significant and increasing delays to all modes of travel. With train traffic increasing over time this problem will become only more acute. The Edmonds/Kingston route carries more vehicle traffic than any other route in the Washington State ferry system (2010/2011 totals). It also carries nearly 4 million passengers each year, second only to the Bainbridge Island crossing. This connection is a critical part of the Puget Sound transportation network for commuting, tourism, and freight. The additional delays inherent to increased rail traffic, particularly by long, relatively slow coal trains, will be considerable. Unmitigated, these delays could begin to impact ferry schedules and capacity. The volume of both passengers and vehicles choosing to use the ferry system could be reduced as a result. This would reduce revenues to the system and place more vehicles on our busy highways. There is also an issue of safety at these two crossings. Edmonds has experienced two train/vehicle accidents in the last three months, one where a passenger train struck a very large semi-tractor trailer at Main Street illustrating the significant safety concerns at this location. This issue needs additional and detailed analysis leading to specific proposals to eliminate this at-grade conflict. The EIS should study these interferences with Ferry system operations and make reliable projections based on expected conditions out to 2030. This information can be used in conversations regarding mitigation should the project continue to move forward.


    The 45 trains that come through Edmonds each day blow their whistle at each of our two crossings. That is a total of eight for each train or 360 high-intensity blasts every 24 hours which could rise to over 800 in the future. These horns are required by the FRA to put out a minimum sound pressure level of 96 dBA and a maximum of 110 dBA at a 100 foot distance in front of the train. This is occurring in an area where over two million cars and four million people transit, many of them twice each day. The most acute exposures are likely to be to walk-on ferry riders, people waiting for a Sounder or Amtrak train, and citizens trying to enjoy the public amenities at Edmonds’ waterfront parks. These noise levels are well above levels that can cause hearing loss to those not wearing hearing protection. It is also loud enough, according to available research, to cause significant interruption to normal conversation as much as a mile and a half from the track. No comprehensive study has been conducted in Edmonds that measures the sound level and impacts of train whistles on hearing loss, sleep patterns, real estate prices, or stress levels. Such a study should be completed that is Edmonds-specific and projects to 2030 train traffic levels so that noise abatement strategies can be discussed intelligently during deliberations about mitigation. In the alternative, project proponents should commit to the establishment of a complete “Quiet Zone” for downtown Edmonds two crossings that incorporates all of the available strategies to enhance pedestrian and vehicle safety while eliminating the need for train whistles.


  5. On November 22, 2011, the Edmonds City Council approved Resolution No. 1263 stating Edmonds’ opposition to transporting coal across Washington State and along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway line which passes through Edmonds.

    On July 16, 2012, the Edmonds City Council approved Resolution No. 1280 This Resolution expresses Edmonds’ concern about impacts from increased rail traffic in Edmonds resulting from the proposed SSA Marine Gateway Pacific Rail Terminal project located in Whatcom County and requesting the principal agencies reviewing environmental impact statement (EIS) for said project study and identify the impacts to the City of Edmonds, that at least one of the EIS scoping hearings be held in Edmonds, and that SSA Marine and BNSF fully mitigate adverse impacts.

    I recommend reading both Resolutions as they provide valuable information. They are easy to find on the City’s website.

    I think it would be helpful to make a list of entities that may bear some responsibility (Who pays?) for addressing the many issues caused by the two at-grade crossings in Edmonds.

    Following are possible candidates for such a list:

    Federal Government (including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
    State Government (including WSDOT and Department of Ecology)
    Whatcom County (Home of Gateway Pacific terminal proposed by SSA Marine for Cherry Point in Whatcom County.)
    Snohomish County
    City Of Edmonds
    Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad
    SSA Marine

    Please feel free to recommend additions or deletions from this list.

    Please see the “Who Pays” page on the Edmonds Train Trench website for additional information.


  6. A study of Edmonds by Gibson Traffic Consultants dated May 22, 2012 provides additional analysis. The study can be found by doing an internet search for: Cherry-Point-Coal-GTC-Edmonds-Final


  7. The better solution would be to stop using the beach for trains altogether. Build a new rail line south from Monroe to Renton. Remove the train tracks between Everett and Seattle. Much safer all around regarding landslides, water pollution, safety, etc.

    As regards the proposed Edmonds Crossing Project, (ECP). Expanding the ferry terminal in Edmonds is against the best interests of Edmonds. The ECP brings three auto ferry slips to Edmonds.

    The Growth Management Act of WA boundaries can be breached by building a “Resort” that include a sewage treatment plant. The old Pope and Talbot, (now called Olympic Resources Co), owns Port Gamble. If Edmonds allows expansion of the auto ferry terminal the Ferry system could put many more boats on the run. This would allow property development to expand dramatically on the north Kitsap peninsula and eastern Jefferson county.

    ECP is a freeway on the Edmonds beach. Let’s not get deluded by the promise of “Fixing the ferry backup’s”. What we will be doing is creating ferry backups every workday as many thousands of people move to the new development density a sewage system built by Olympic Resources Co. on the north Kitsap Peninsula make possible.


  8. There are many round black railroad cars, I counted 150 the other day … what are the contents. I’ve heard petroleum gas.


  9. I believe Sound Transit paid BNSF $258 million for operating easements on BNSF tracks between Everett and Seattle over 10 years ago. The deal provides Sound Transit the right to run trains on those tracks during specific hours of the day in perpetuity.


  10. According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, this area is part of the “seismic hazard” map critical area because of this seismic mapping inventory……Geologically haazardous area…….Also, ocean level rising and will continue

    Thinking of Seattle, it could get real complicated real fast, and big $$$$


    1. As described, the Reno trench was built with a maximum total cost bid and stayed right on budget. The deep tunnel project under Seattle bears no relation in design, cost or scale to the proposed Edmonds Train Trench.


  11. The word ‘Bertha’ comes to mind. It means, in Seattle, a large government project that fails without significant progress, with greater cost than anticipated, and without one government, or private sector official claiming responsibility. It will mean a public left with many millions of add’l costs to pay-off, with little benefit. For ‘Bertha 2″ (this project), the Mayor, Council and citizens better decide soon how much risk we can afford. I too would like the blazing train horn to go away, but is that the most pressing issue? Any small business assessment to determine what impact the ‘trench’ and its related changes, would bring to the waterfront and downtown. There are apparent clear benefits, but @ what risk and cost to folks along the track. Finally, the picture looks too much like the rail yards in New Jersey and New York. Nothing pretty goin’ on there.


  12. The Gibson Traffic Consultants Memorandum discusses the POSSIBILITY of the following:

    As a waiting train (future coal train?) leaves the siding it has to accelerate up to speed taking longer to cross and still triggers the crossing arm for the nearby street crossing ahead. Thus it can mean the crossing arm is triggered before waiting queues are cleared from the last train and therefore have continual impact for over 10 minutes.

    I recommend reading the Gibson Traffic Consultants Memorandum.

    This is such a huge complicated issue in so many ways. I wish the State would tell us all what its plans are for addressing the State Highway/Washington State Ferries problem at the Main Street at-grade Railroad Crossing. The State’s plans may have a direct relationship to the City’s need to address the long overdue emergency response issues at the waterfront.

    Certainly the State is well aware that increased population density is happening on an ongoing basis as required by the State’s own Growth Management Act. I would expect that the State has known for years that train traffic will grow at that crossing with or without coal trains. Should the State be well along in the planning process already? Should Edmonds know what the State’s plans are so we can factor such into our own planning? I would hope so.

    State law requires WSDOT to “exercise all the powers and perform all the duties necessary, convenient, or incidental to the planning, locating, designing, constructing, improving, repairing, operating, and maintaining [of] state highways” (See RCW 47.01.260). Washington State Ferries is part of the State Highway System.

    Please note that RCW 47.01.260 says perform ALL the duties, including planning.


  13. I’d like to take a moment and thank the Golds again for their hard work on this concept. It is multifaceted and I am still studying it, but I just think it is fantastic that two citizens would care so much for our community that they would put so much work into building and sharing an idea – an idea that addresses so many complicated problems.


  14. I think it is great also that these two people have come up with such a creative idea……I will have to read all the information…..Yes, this does appear to address a number of issues…..I will look into it more……Yes, I believe there are many, many creative people in Edmonds with grand new ideas like this……


  15. To those that blame the railroad,
    You moved here after the Great Northern (GN), Burlington Northern (BN), Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and BNSF, We are ruining it for our selves by blaming it on someone else. After all what is listed above is a suggesting to go from Monroe to Renton. We had one that did this it went from Snohomish to Renton. Kirkland and the WSDOT removed that option. In fact Kirkland said the same thing they don’t need tracks because we have them on the Puget Sound.

    Lets face it no one wants a railroad track in their back yard except for a few of us. It is much esier for us and the railroad to keep tracks where they are than to find a new route.There is a railroad that is fighting to have the track in Kirkland relaid as that is much easier than finding a new route.

    Still have not found a single train trench that is 75% to 80% below a major body of water. even the Vancouver WA one is completely above the normal level of the Columbia River. The concrete train trench sits on piles on the hill side. Port of Vancouver link with photo. . .

    Can someone please find a suitable example where the water is this close to the railroad?


    1. As shown in the “read more” link on the website Vancouver, WA train trench page, that trench goes below the normal high water level, necessitating special planning for digging and engineering.


  16. This sounds like a better idea than the Tunnel Under the Railroad at Dayton project floated last year. It will be easier to ship all our coal to China and if water enters the trench…we can just pump it into Puget Sound.


    1. Thanks, Lance — This solution is proposed to turn future negatives, some known and some unknown, from increasing train traffic and double or triple tracking through Edmonds. Of course, it actually helps control the pollutants from the train cargoes and allows a redirecting solution from that containment, as well as protection from explosive or fire accidents in town (as described on There is no proposal to pump anything into Puget Sound.


      1. I know that your work will be hailed and held in the highest regard by our courageous city, state, and federal leaders. I look to our city council, mayor, and the citizens of Edmonds to champion the Edmonds Train Trench project. A project of this magnitude needs the finest minds, steadfast effort, and visionary leadership to bring it to fruition. Edmonds is the place for this to happen!


  17. Have a look at depressed rights-of-way, for road or rail, in other parts of the world, from the Cross-Bronx Expressway in NYC to the MBTA / Amtrak approach to South Station in Boston. They are not regarded as aesthetic or cost-benefit successes, or good for the urban landscape. Trench solutions are seen as scarring and dividing cityscapes in ways level-grade solutions do not. Relocating passenger boarding platforms below-grade would create an inhospitable, perhaps intimidating / frightening space (Google Back Bay Station, Boston). The drainage / seepage issues that would accompany an Edmonds trench would just be the icing on the cake; I thought the current Seattle Big Dig fiasco had illustrated the folly of such adventures.

    Increasing train traffic through town is obviously an issue but the trench seems to create more problems than it solves. If emergency responder access to sites west of the tracks is really a major issue, wouldn’t it be cheaper and simpler to build a Dayton Street flyover?


  18. Judging by the pictures at Claire’s Restaurant on Main Street the line was obviously double tracked during the 1920/30’s with several business spurs, all of which are gone today. The railroad has a mostly 100 foot right of way through town regardless of easements granted to the city and more than likely retains a right to reclaim them if they so choose to double track their mainline again. The area already floods during high tides and heavy rains, a below grade option would require a massive de-watering plan in the winter months. An elevated crossover similar to Royal Brougham Way in Seattle would be a smarter approach.


  19. Just a piece of information for those people that are commenting about water leakage, sea water heights, etc. Any engineer familiar with the requirements of partially below water level trenches and, of course, any below ground foundations and structures in coastal cities and Low Countries, knows that the engineering issue is buoyancy, not leakage. There are very well established means and calculations, including on those shown and described on, that are employed to counter the buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure that is a standard engineering specification. None of this is likely to be a problem, especially because the full depth of 25 feet lasts for only about 300 yards between Dayton and Main. The rest of the Trench rises at about 1.1 degrees to the north and south (as described on the website) so more than half would be above high tide line. There are other engineering features the Trench would have, but highly likely nothing unique or unusual.

    As far as rising sea levels, the top of the Trench walls would be at the current track level (the chosen safe elevation above high tide), and all of BNSF’s line is at that height for all of the track along Puget Sound is at the same level and will have to have additional barriers if sea levels rise to near the track level in 75 years+ or -, and of course, so will Edmonds entire waterfront, most of Florida, New York City, etc. Yet, 80% or so of the US population lives near the coasts, so life must go on while we work on our challenges.

    Ultimately, the nearly invisible solution to all of the worsening problems being discussed, which is why we believe it should be studied and bid by experienced outside engineering/contracting firms to see if it is in fact the most cost effective along withits tremendous positive economic impact into the future, it’s protective qualities, and that way it does everything without any change to the surface or skyline of Edmonds waterfront. After we find out what the other stake holding partners would pay, we could make an informed decision.


  20. Darrol,
    I think the idea would be to place it on a retaining wall work on one half and then do the other half. The image above does not do the whole idea justice as the space taken up by the above trench is about twice as big as the way it is shown to be with surrounding land marks. The shelters would not be there nor the station.

    Digging down is something I would never suggest for our community in what was once a marsh.


  21. Just a piece of information for Charles Gold. Distance is measured in feet when it comes to the railroads not yards. A 1.1 degree angle equals a 1.82% grade.I think you mean a 1.1% grade as this is the same as the Reno example. I did my own measurements to come to that conclusion. It may be an even smaller percentage that that. If you want to do your own math that is 2200 feet from the first bridge to the end of the retaining walls.
    In Edmonds that is two houses from Caspers Street to the Main Street crossing.

    “….and all of BNSF’s line is at that height for all of the track along Puget Sound is at the same level…” You can find data to the contrary to that statement. Just watch when it floods in Edmonds, parts of the tracks are wet and other parts are high and dry. You can also drive under the Railroad tracks at Golden Gardens Park.

    Still would like to chat with you further if you would like that, contact me .


  22. Possible simple solution…..How about an emergency alert system with the railroad traffic manager that allowed for the railroad to be ALERTED when 911 has been called to that area. It would take 4-6 minutes for the emergency response team to be at that point, so in the meantime the train could either be stopped up the track like it is now at times, or waved through BEFORE the emergency team arrived for assistance……even if there was a long train, it would still only take so many minutes for it to pass through….well BEFORE the point at which the emergency response team needed to cross.

    This seems like a simple, workable solution. I don’t believe in the last 100 years there has been a problem of emergency people crossing one time , even with the ferry congestion here for many years …..soooooooooooo, unless someone is planning some mega development of condominiums (which the citizens of Edmonds repeatedly have said they do NOT want on their waterfront) with many more people living on the water, I can see how a much simpler plan might work well……… This is the age of instant contact, so this could work and be very simple, hence also savings millions$$$$$


  23. Trains are always alerted for stops of trains for mudslides on tracks…….obviously a system is possible particularily for a a situation that very rarely or hardly EVER has happened. I don’t see one incidence in past


  24. “I don’t believe in the last 100 years there has been a problem of emergency people crossing one time , even with the ferry congestion here for many years ….”

    Wrong. Back in the late 90’s a woman was walking her dog on the tracks (an illegal act called “trespassing”) south of the off leash dog park when she was overtaken by a south bound freight train. She was grazed by the lead engine as she pulled her dog off the tracks.

    I was at the Amtrak station watching the train go by at the time. It went into emergency braking and stopped, blocking both the Dayton and Main Street crossings. This was before construction of the second mainline began and there was no way for emergency responders to cross the tracks and head south to help the woman.

    The woman was finally reached by boat and strapped on a gurney which was tied onto the front platform of the lead engine. In the meantime people were crawling over and climbing under freight cars in order to cross the tracks, a very dangerous situation considering the train could move without notice. After 3-4 hours (I had left, but heard the train blowing for the crossings from my home), the train backed north and cleared both crossings with the “victim” in tow.

    My concerns about the trench are the stability of the trench in that environment and the steepness of the grades.

    As Nate pointed out, railroad grades are expressed in percentages: rise/run x 100. The critical distances in calculating the grades are the clearances of the overpasses (24.5 feet) and the distance south from Dayton St. to the tight curve by the dog park, which I estimated as 0.4 miles using the odometer of my car as I drove south on Admiral Way. By my calculation, that would be a 1.16% grade. Feasible, although unlikely to make BNSF happy.

    A friend of mine who is a local, highly respected professional geologist told me that constructing a stable trench structure below water level in fill material is no problem, just a matter of $$$$$$$. He suggested adding a properly vented “lid” over the trench for ascetic purposes. A new underground Amtrak station would no doubt have to be built as well.


  25. Just an update. Our answers to the questions here are expanded on the website with additional material. However, one of the unique things about the Edmonds Train Trench Proposal is that it benefits everyone, so in the hundreds of citizens, local politicians, property owners, etc. with whom we have now had the chance to discuss this plan, the only questions are logistical and cost. Both of these can only be nailed down totally by calling in qualified, experienced train trench engineering firms, such as those that built the Reno ReTRAC trench, to give preliminary designs and cost estimates/bids, followed by a conversation by the Mayor and others with BNSF to present the plan for discussion of working together for mutual benefit to get it done. Our feeling is that this would result in the most cost effective solution ever presented, as well as the obviously most comprehensive, but the only thing that will matter is the actual proposals of qualified firms and the resulting discussions with BNSF. Getting the Mayor to initiate these initial investigatory steps is the only purpose of the Petition on , which would benefit all of Edmonds.


    1. Not to detract from the fossil fuel issue, this has nothing to do with coal trains — It is about ferry loading, emergency access, etc. in a particular traffic conflict problem of Edmonds that has had proposals studied for 25 years, long before coal trains were even envisioned. BNSF will complete 2 tracks through Edmonds (already approved in 2009) one way or the other, and 467 yards of depressed track does not do anything for that regional issue, or oil trains, or any other cargo. It will be the same either way for the region.


  26. Facts:
    1) BNSF owns Railroad Ave. and will be reclaiming it’s property to complete the last few miles of “non-double track” line between OR and BC.
    2) I personally know the BNSF first responder to appear on the seen the last time someone committed suicide on the tracks in downtown (and Haynes Warf). This poor soul was run over by only a certain number of the train cars. This BNSF first responder informed the incident commander he could pull the pin from the uninvolved cars, move them and open up access to the waterfront. He was told to stand down as the whole scene is in control of the Sno Co Coroner and nothing will happen until he approves. Meanwhile, a victim was waiting west of the tracks. (Doesn’t seem like a multi-million dollar problem to solve there.)
    3) As far as I know, there has been no statistical facts presented for public review identifying the number of emergencies west of the tracks that were hindered or delayed due to a train crossing. If somebody could produce this type of factual information, it may enlighten everyone why the investment is so vital. (Or have a professional actuary determine the likelihood and Edmonds buy a 100 year insurance policy for the amount of tax money being proposed)
    4) Edmonds city government has invested zero dollars in developing a partnership with BNSF, Sound Transit, Community Transit or Amtrak to establish a common language and consistent/coordinated emergency response process. Let alone find common ground in the technologies used to respond to emergencies.
    5) Edmonds city government has spent zero dollars in researching an emergency response depot/center west of the tracks. Again, BNSF, Sound Transit, EPD, Sno Co Fire, Community Transit, WA State Ferries, WA State Patrol (a trooper is a part of ferry traffic most of the year). Couldn’t these people use a common facility to perform daily duties and respond in the event of a train delaying response from colleagues east of the tracks?
    6) This topic brings out all the wonderful people that want to discuss coal trains, frequency, global warming, train whistles and impact of tracks for Ferry commuters to cross. None of which has anything to do with taxpayers funding a multi-million dollar bridge that may get used infrequently by EMS. (If Main St and Dayton are open, why would EMS use the bridge? This is huge tax money for something that will only cause people to complain about lack of view and use by EMS.

    Please people, focus on tax dollars being spent. Does the amount equal the value?


  27. Maybe we should install rappelling lines so our riders can get to their trains that way. Also since the trenches will be so far below the water line, in the event of a tsunami, all the riders will drown, so we should also require that all riders wear scuba equipment while riding the trains.


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