Letter to editor: Destruction of beach should be a ‘fatal flaw’ for Waterfront Connector


Edmonds waterfront is a complicated dance between ferries, cars, buses, freight trains, and pedestrian beach-goers. Each have their own needs for access and they are often at conflict with each other. I do not deny the value of looking into solutions to improve access to the waterfront to reduce these conflicts.

In 2015, the City attempted just that. Mayor Earling appointed a Task Force that included representatives from four major transportation agencies (BNSF, WSDOT – Ferries Division, Community Transit, and Sound Transit), three Edmonds residents, and Co-Chairs Councilmember Mike Nelson and Port of Edmonds Commissioner Jim Orvis. Public Works, City engineers, and members of the consultant team were also present.

Noticeably, representation from the Parks Department or City of Edmonds Planning Division were not included in the Task Force. Either of which may have paused to consider the human experience. Too often city government finds itself operating in functional silos. This has to change.

There was good intent from both the Task Force and City Council. Discussion was had about how to properly engage the public and which visual impacts they felt the community would not be amenable to. Neither strategy was very effective as evidenced by the community response. The City should re-think is public engagement policy and develop a consistent approach that improves meaningful, equitable outreach.

The Task Force tried to meet the goals of all agencies in one project and they didn’t fairly weigh the community response to aesthetics. Surely, the Edmonds community is a stakeholder in the project on equal footing with BNSF, WSDOT, Community Transit, and Sound Transit. Destroying the beach with a “freeway” off-ramp should be considered a “fatal flaw” just like BNSF considered any track alteration a “fatal flaw.”

Edmonds Waterfront Connector is what happens when engineers and representatives from major transportation agencies design things for themselves—all function, no form. The community was not impressed, drew a line in the sand, and said “not here.” I agree. We need to find a better solution.

I am happy to live in a community that is politically active. The City could do a better job harnessing the time and talent of its citizens for this and future projects.

— Brad Shipley

12 Replies to “Letter to editor: Destruction of beach should be a ‘fatal flaw’ for Waterfront Connector”

  1. As with many overpasses, homeless folks will live under them for shelter so we will need to consider how to deal with the consequences of garbage, rodents, disease risk and providing homes which obviously adds to the costs of this project.


  2. Brad, Thank you for running for Mayor.

    There does seem to be competing motives for the Connector, not that all motives are unjustified. Putting an overpass on the founding beach is too big of a price. Thank you for pumping the brakes as part of your campaign.


  3. Brad, thank you for writing this. I find it refreshing, informative, and nicely put. Best of luck in your Mayoral campaign.


  4. What a ridiculously incredibly stupid and expensive mistake it would be to build a giant concrete VIADUCT on beautiful Edmonds beach. They can’t be serious!! Could lead to the death knell of the city, it’s that bad.


  5. Like a flu epidemic, this proposal keeps r3surfacing. I have seen NO meaningful data that supports it–i.e. how many people have suffered from the 2 minute delay while trains pass? This seems to be a pork barrel project with the primary goal of lining the pockets of a small group of developers. Rather than permanently defacing one of Edmonds’ jewels, emergencies could be handled by placing a small garden shed type building on the water side of the tracks thats an AED and other essential gear that volunteers can be trained to use in a crisis. Doing so can even shorten response time!!
    ‘can we bury this proposal once and for all?


  6. We need an Advisory Vote on the Ballot concerning the Waterfront Connector!!

    What do the the Voters want??

    The excuse of voting for candidates who might/might not support the Waterfront Connector is sandbagging the issue and slighting the concerns of Edmonds Citizens !!

    A non-binding issue-based advisory vote is needed!!


  7. I’ve lived in Edmonds for years, but only THIS WEEK did I hear anything about this overpass. That seems astounding and irresponsible given the magnitude of the project and it’s impact on the daily life of our city. I hope there is sincere exploration of alternatives to this aesthetically devastating, and costly plan.


  8. Maybe the city can use that money for a parking structure. We really need more parking in Edmonds.


  9. First off, I was impressed when I saw Mr. Shipley at the protest chanting “Save Our Beach” out in the crowd with the rest of us, who were not enthused about the location of this project and the scare tactics being used to promote it (scare tactics being my objection, not necessarily Mr. Shipley’s). Point being, he wasn’t using the event to campaign, he was just one of us for the evening. This took some guts on his part, in my opinion, as he is already a city planning employee. (I’ve noticed city employees often tow the administration line which I find a little disturbing. It doesn’t always seem like their presentations to Council are basically neutral in terms of promotion of Council actions on given issues).
    In my opinion, too much follow the leader is what led to this Beach mess and all the public outcry. The city council finally found it’s voice of representing the people, rather than the administration. I suspect Mr. Tibbott voted the way he did because he knew he had no chance at the Mayor job if he voted for the Connector at this time. Voters should keep in mind that Mr. Tibbott as been heartily endorsed by a past high profile Mayor and our current high profile Mayor. Regardless of this vote, he still represents the status quo which is fine, if that is what you want in the future for Edmonds.


    1. Yes, Tibbot and Mayor are close on these grand designs. Nelson is very partisan, City is being sued because of him. Brad, we dont know yet, but so far so good?


  10. As someone who was at the protest, I find it very comforting that someone like Mr. Shipley could join the cause and not worry about himself. I think I know who I’m voting for this year.


    1. Indeed, Brad Shipley is impressive. We will be giving him a very long, hard look for our pick for Mayor of Edmonds. We need a change in Edmonds. “Promotions” of council members to mayor is not always a good thing.


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