The last of four open house meetings on the Edmonds Waterfront Access Study Wednesday night presented a list of 11 preferred alternatives for public comment, narrowed down from an original list of 51. Displays were placed around the room with diagrams and information on each of the preferred alternatives.
Project lead Rick Schaefer of Tetra Tech gave a short presentation reporting on the progress of the study to date and next steps. (see the PowerPoint presentation here).
“We’ve tried to look toward the future in developing these alternatives,” he said. “We need to ensure that whatever course we ultimately choose can adapt to future changes that might include, for instance, a second or even third railroad track. We don’t want to settle on an approach that merely solves yesterday’s problems.”
The alternatives fell into three subgroups based on their overall approach to providing reliable access to the Edmonds waterfront:
- Emergency Access by Foot – these solutions provide pedestrian access only and would require emergency equipment to be stored on the waterfront side.
- Emergency Vehicle Access – these solutions would provide a one-lane roadway for use by emergency vehicles and pedestrians, and would not be available for general traffic. In an emergency situation they could be used to unload ferry traffic with appropriate staffing and traffic control. In addition, these could serve as links in future bikeways or trail systems.
- Emergency Vehicle Access with Ferry Load and Offload – these solutions would provide a route for both emergency access and regular ferry vehicle traffic.
Each preferred alternative was then evaluated for how it best met the baseline criteria identified earlier in the study, and assigned a score reflecting how well it did this. The baseline criteria are:
- Provide reliable emergency response
- Reduce ferry delays
- Reduce delays and conflicts at crossings
- Provide safe and efficient passenger connections
- Provide for emergency evacuation
- Consistency with urban design and community goals
- Consistency with transportation operations
- Be fundable and permittable
- Have acceptable construction impacts
- Have acceptable environmental effects
- Address sea level rise impacts
When these criteria were applied, four high-scoring alternatives emerged as best fitting the goals of the project:
- The Mid-block Overpass, a foot access-only alternative, would span the tracks with a pedestrian bridge near the current senior center, and would require permanent storage of emergency equipment on the waterfront side.
- The Edmonds Street Overpass, an emergency vehicles-only alternative, would provide a one-lane roadway for emergency vehicles and pedestrians between the intersection of Sunset Avenue and Edmonds Street, and a location near the Brackett’s Landing North restrooms.
- The Main Street Ferry Overpass (minimum build), an emergency vehicle and full ferry access alternative, calls for an overpass between the present ferry holding lanes, bridging the railroad tracks, and connecting to the ferry dock.
- The Edmonds Crossing (minimum build), also an emergency vehicle and full ferry access alternative, would provide an overpass at the south end of Admiral Way.
Renderings were provided of the first three high-scoring alternatives, but not for the Edmonds Crossing option. Schaefer explained that each of these required building and photographing a diorama, and that due to cost only three were done. However, maps, diagrams and descriptions of all eleven alternatives are available on the project website.
During the question-and-answer session following the presentation, Schaefer was asked about potential project costs.
“Costs will, of course, vary widely depending on the final design,” he responded. “But just as a guideline, I think it’s reasonable to expect that the pedestrian-only options would come in somewhere between $6 and $21 million, the single-lane emergency access alternatives between $24 and $29 million, and the full ferry access solutions between $128 and $357 million.”
Next step will be for the Mayor’s Task Force to carefully analyze the body of work to date, and develop its preferred recommendations to present to the mayor and council. Part of the council deliberations would include holding public hearings and taking public comment before it takes action.
Asked about the time frame, Schaefer was careful to point out that this has been a long study and much has gone into it. There is a lot riding on the outcome, and it is important to let decision-makers take the time they need to weigh alternatives, solicit additional input, and come up with the best course of action, Schaefer said.
Additional information and all documents including comment forms are available on the Edmonds Waterfront Access Study web page here.
A video of the presentation will be posted in the near future.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel