Letter to the editor: Accuracy is important when talking about Waterfront Connector

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In recent weeks there has been much public debate about the proposed Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector. Public debate on major projects like this is healthy and can improve the final outcome. But it’s important to be mindful of accuracy when portraying information related to the project.  Recently a Letter to the Editor was published in My Edmonds News entitled “Facts about likelihood of funding for proposed Waterfront Connector” by Rebecca Elmore-Yalch. The writer had apparently done some research into the project’s projected cost and a potential federal funding source, but her letter included some inaccuracies and, more importantly, failure to include a great deal of additional important and relevant information.  Consequently, we would like to share the following information to correct the record:

  • Elmore-Yalch questions the financial feasibility of the Waterfront Connector project because of information she cites about one federal transportation infrastructure program she mentions: “Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development” or BUILD. She is correct in most of what she cited about the increasing competition for BUILD funds around the country, and the increasing expectation by the federal government for higher “local matches” (“local” meaning city, county, regional, state, etc.).
  • However, she failed to mention that the city has applied for, will apply for, and is investigating other federal funding sources, in addition to funds from local, regional and state partners. Such other federal sources include the “Infrastructure for Rebuilding America” (INFRA) program, the “Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant” (CRISI) program, and the “Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (TIFIA), among potentially others.
  • While the city may not be able to expect an 80% federal funding match as with past projects, even with a higher “local match” of, say 50%, it is incorrect 1) to assume that the remaining 50% would come solely from the BUILD program, given these other, above-mentioned funding sources. There is certainly reason to apply for, and even expect, more robust federal funding contributions, given a richer mix of funding sources.
  • What’s more, Ms. Elmore-Yalch cited that the 2019 BUILD appropriation had decreased over previous years, ostensibly to make the point that even less money will be available for local projects from this source. However, the House has already proposed increased funding for 2020, and there is reason to believe that future year’s BUILD appropriations may continue at higher levels, especially given Congress’s recent push for greater infrastructure investment.
  • She also mentioned that previously incurred expenses “cannot” be included in “local match” requirements for BUILD applications. This is not accurate.  While she cited information from Patrick Doherty in an email to Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, she misstated that information.  In that email Doherty informed Councilmember Buckshnis that the Administration had recently stated its preference to exclude “previously incurred” expenses from a project’s “local match.” However, since that initial preference was made public, the push-back from around the nation has been loud and swift. Our city’s work led to a letter, signed by many regional entities and issued by Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, to our federal elected representatives as well as Administration officials.  Additionally, members of Congress are now pushing hard to rescind this Administration preference. In fact, as of the most recent check, the INFRA statute is currently silent on the issue of previously incurred expenses. This is an issue that all parties must continue to push back against, but it is not true that our already-incurred expenses of approximately $1.7 million for the Waterfront Connector cannot be included in our “local match” at this time.
  • The city has spent a relatively minor amount of money on this project to date: $250,000; only 15% of the $1.7M expended. The next phase of the project, comprised of continuing design work, environmental review and identification of mitigation measures, permitting, etc., will be funded entirely by state grant monies — no additional city money at this time.
  • To conclude that this project is not financially feasible at this still early date is both incorrect and premature. We have received and/or secured commitments for over $10 million from local, regional and state agencies which comprises the current level of our “local match.” If we were to aim for, say, a 50% local match, that would be approximately $14 million from a variety of nonfederal “local” sources. Continued outreach to our partners, BNSF, the state, etc., could bridge that approximately $4 million gap.
  • And to expect up to 50% in federal funds from a variety of sources (BUILD, INFRA, CRISI, TIFIA, etc.) is neither unreasonable nor infeasible.
  • Multiple city projects in the past, current city projects now in the queue, and future city projects not even conceived at this time, will rely on funding from a variety of resources outside our city. This is how these projects get funded and accomplished. It requires patience and perseverance and our city has both of those qualities to tackle long term projects that will have a lasting and positive impact in our community.

One last point that needs to be stated: the financial cost pales compared to the potential loss of life and property due to blockages of our two at grade crossings. Whether it is a five-minute blockage from a mile-long train or a four-hour blockage due to an accident on the tracks, an emergency on the westside of our city will require an immediate response. And to those who say we have yet to suffer such a loss of life or loss of property, how long should we wait? What is the casualty limit that triggers a response? One life lost, two lives? A major fire in the marina or a local restaurant? We need to be proactive not reactive as the number of residents and visitors using our many waterfront amenities continues to grow. And like all projects in our city, a great deal of thought and public input has gone into the selection of the location and the design of the waterfront connector, which was identified as the best solution of over fifty potential options for creating emergency waterfront access. We now have 40-plus trains a day going through our city on one track. In the near future we will have 100-plus trains a day on two tracks. We simply must be prepared.

Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council, Pos. #5

Thomas Mesaros, Edmonds City Council, Pos. #6

 

 

56 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Accuracy is important when talking about Waterfront Connector”

  1. “And to those who say we have yet to suffer such a loss of life or loss of property, how long should we wait?”
    ______________
    You two are absolutely correct. Development of public policy, and the expenditure of huge sums of taxpayer dollars should be predicated on outcomes that have never happened, on contingencies that have no precedent, and on percentages that rival that of winning the lottery.
    A major fire in the marina? A four-hour train stoppage? A mile long train that cannot stop or back up in Time? Don’t stop there boys, I agree with you that we need to be proactive – we actually have no present response plan for that day when a meteor hits the pier, or for when aliens invade doggie beach. As an Edmonds resident I find this simply unacceptable. Best get on it Councillors, and make sure to soak up lots of taxpayer dollars while you craft more expensive (and obtuse) solutions that are themselves in desperate search of problems …

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    1. Vote for Mike Nelson, Edmonds need an educated, young, fresh mind, and it is about time that Edmonds has an attorney as it’s Mayor.

      Citizens of Edmonds, there are laws which ban you from walking with your dog on the beach, but hey, you can build a bridge on the beach for a plethora of imaginary emergencies. Maybe a dog goes poo on the beach, but it is generally cleaned up. An ugly bridge is forever along with it’s requisite, spray paint graffiti, a new homeless village under the ramp, drug needles in the sand, bicycles, maybe even a new location for food trucks, and Edmonds will gain an illuminated bridge as art – to destroy the night sky.

      What a Joke…….Vote in new Council.

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        1. Hey Matt,

          The NRA and Second Ammendment Foundation actually backed out of the lawsuit. The City is still being represented pro bono by Every Town. So no lawyers or settlements happening here.

          Come by and see the new space sometine!

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  2. “the financial cost pales compared to the potential loss of life and property“ If this is so important than why did the two of you vote in favor of reducing Firefighter and emergency medical staffing within city limits in 2017? These professionals benefit all of Edmonds.

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    1. It appears that staffing levels may have been excessive as the reduced staff has been able to provide appropriate response times.

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      1. This is not true. At the last council meeting the fire chief reported that Lynnwood and MLT are coming into Edmonds 3 times more than edmonds responds to them and response times have increased due to cross staffing.

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      2. Having staffing at the stations to cover only one emergency call for the area it serves is not sufficient.

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        1. It’s possible to staff up to handle several simultaneous emergencies; it all comes down to how much more property taxes, or higher rents, people are willing to pay.

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        2. Ron,
          Response capabilities in Edmonds have never been at an “excess”. They were where they should be before 2017. They were put in place for a reason. This allowed Edmonds to not pull resources from surrounding communities, which then puts them at a disadvantage as well. This disadvantage for all players is happening 3 times as much. If it is my family needing these life saving services I don’t want “acceptable” response times. Your point on raising taxes cracks me up! If they can find state and federal money for this bridge, and make up for the rest. They could have supported appropriate Fire and EMS services for the last few years.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your optimism in sourcing sufficient federal funds.

    With regard to your doomsday scenarios, I am confident the Fire Department has a contingency plan, or there would have been secondary access long ago. I suspect the fire department has already thought of work-arounds to reach a patient in the event of a stalled train, such as carrying what equipment they can, commandeering a ferry boat tug truck and trailer, and drive to the scene. Then transport via Airlift Northwest from a parking lot, or via Olympic Ambulance on the ferry to a Kitsap County facility.

    For a fire, in Sitka, Alaska, mutual aid is a fire engine on a barge from Juneau. Fire apparatus from Kingston would arrive much sooner than that on the ferry! And again, only after initial equipment and personnel were already shuttled via commandeered vehicles (I’d loan mine if I was stuck on that side of the tracks).

    For perspective, such events are uncommon, but not unheard of. In July 2018 near Chicago, a broken down train delayed transport of two patients from a car wreck to a hospital by about 20 minutes. The report described this unfortunate coincidence as a “perfect storm.”

    And just this past March 2019, the only road in and out to some homes and businesses in Iowa was blocked by a derailment… And no simultaneous emergency was reported. Train cars were decoupled and the back of the train pulled away to clear the crossing. This fix is consistent with an approach identified in a FRA report from 2008 to clear crossings in an emergency.

    Based on these examples, the standard of care established for our nation’s railways is already provided for here in Edmonds.

    As for the ferry from Kingston unloading, that should be a non-issue. They can head up to off-load at Mukilteo’s new multi-modal dock.

    Save our money for Civic Field, or establish a fund to pay for a Kitsap County medic unit and fire engine to catch the first ferry out of Kingston to come standby as soon as both waterfront crossings are blocked in order to be ready in case of a 911 call at the same time. The interest off those set aside monies could be put right into our general fund.

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  4. This kind of reminds me of mountain climbers. I’m constantly asked (or called on the phone) to give money for life saving expenses when these climbers need helicopter rescue or such. I’ve often thought you shouldn’t be able to climb Atop MT Rainier or a certain elevation unless you pay a insurance policy..just in case..I digress. When the people who bought property right there, didn’t they know at the time there could be a problem?

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  5. I have yet to see a response to the most obvious and cheapest means of solving this problem – a system set up to decouple a stuck train and push it out of the way so our current emergency vehicles can get to the other side of the track. We could even has a small emergency station set up on the ferry side of the tracks. And this “clarification” about funding completely ignores the fact that Edmonds citizens do not want that ugly concrete eyesore ruining one of our most beautiful Edmonds beaches.

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  6. Lisa: Your ideas are logical. The fire department was opposed to a satellite station/equipment cache, so it went nowhere. If our emergency responders perceived a problem to exist, I would expect them to have been in favor of any potential solution. If the burden of maintaining the extra equipment is too much, then the situation must not be that dire.

    Unfortunately, our elected officials have convinced themselves that public comment occurred and deemed the Waterfront Connector the best solution, fulfilling some uncompromisable goal of the City. The time for reason is alleged to have passed, it’s now the Waterfront Connector or bust…maybe both.

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  7. With all due respect to Mr. Mesaros and Mr. Teitzel, my neighbor, I disagree with them on the proposed Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector. Please, shelve this project and find a solution that does not destroy the beach with a “viaduct” like monstrosity!

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  8. I am very disappointed in the article written by Teitzel. I will be looking for a new candidate for mayor to put my support behind. It is obvious the people of Edmonds do not want this monstrosity yet for some reason this has no deterred OUR REPRESENTATIVES. There are plenty of options that have been discussed the would get the needed public support. Put the bridge at the south end of the waterfront, build a pedestrian overpass, put a first aid station on the water side of the tracks, ……. I really do not understand the counsels resistance to the public input. They say they had public meetings, but those were only a technicality – their minds were already made up.

    As far as the funding, it doesn’t matter if it comes from this grant or that grant, the state or the federal government. Where do those fund come from, you and me.

    I am all for public safety but this $30 million dollar boondoggle is not what Edmonds citizens desire OR need.

    I hope you all remember who supported the during the upcoming election.

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    1. Thank you for pointing this out: “As far as the funding, it doesn’t matter if it comes from this grant or that grant, the state or the federal government. Where do those fund come from, you and me.”
      Good reminder to everyone.
      And, regardless of the funding issues, many of us don’t want the project to proceed in its current form. Destroying the beach is not an option!

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  9. Who cares where funding comes from when it is something that the people DO NOT WANT! Please use some common sense and explore all avenues of responding to an emergency. A project of this magnitude needs to go before the voters before it proceeds any further.

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  10. Councilmembers Teitzel and Mesaros are correct in their response to my letter to the editor (Facts about likelihood of funding for proposed Waterfront Connector) that “accuracy is important when talking about Waterfront Connector.” However, they also perpetuate some inaccuracies and fail to disclose some other important facts. I would like to take this opportunity to address, with all due respect, some of the information they put forth to “correct the record.”
    • They are correct that I did not mention that the city “has applied for, will apply for, and is investigating other federal funding sources.” My letter focused on the BUILD grant program, a program with which I am most familiar as I have worked with government agencies across the country to measure public support for major projects for which they would seek funding. Demonstrable local support for a project is one of the criteria on which grant applications are evaluated. Providing information about other grants such as INFRA, CRISI, TIFIA, etc. would have made my already lengthy letter more lengthy and the points would still be the same. For example, here is some information about the INFRA grants referenced by Mesaros and Teitzel taken directly from this source https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants:
    o INFRA grants are available to projects that are “in line with the Administration’s principles to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
    o Funding for 2019 grants (due dates for requests was earlier this year) totaled somewhere between $855-$902.5 million dollars, down from $1.5 billion in 2018 – a 40% decrease. While Mesaros and Teitzel are correct that “the House has already proposed an increase in funding for 2020 and there is reason to believe that future year’s appropriations may continue at higher levels,” there is also no reason to believe that future appropriations will be higher. It could go either way and we will have the same administration in 2020 when they do the next round of appropriations as we had for 2019.
    o INFRA grants are frequently large grants—”at least $5 million for a small project and at least $25 million for a large project.” While this looks good on the surface – i.e., you could get a big chunk of change—it also means that this is divided across fewer projects. In 2018, INFRA grants were awarded to 26 projects, compared to 91 for BUILD grants.
    o In 2019, INFRA used updated criteria to evaluation projects to “align them with nation and regional economic vitality goals.” Additionally, the new program “promotes the incorporation of innovative technology that will improve our transportation system.” Finally, the Department (USDOT) is specifically focused on projects in which the “local” sponsor is significantly invested and is positioned to proceed rapidly to construction.
    I will leave it to others to determine the extent to which the proposed Waterfront Connector meets these criteria and the likelihood of achieving funding for the proposed project.
    • I did not rely on Patrick Doherty’s statement about the application of previously incurred statements. According to Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department of Transportation’s National Infrastructure Investments under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 published on April for grant applications submitted by July 15, 2019, “The Department will not consider previously incurred costs or previously expended or encumbered funds towards the matching requirement for any project.” While this could be changed in the future, it is unlikely that it will change for 2019 grant applications and it may not be changed in the future.
    • Mesaros and Teitzel go on to state “the city has “spent a relatively minor amount of money on this project to date: $250,000.” This statement fails to take into account the significant amount of city staff time and resources that have been spent on the effort, the opportunity costs of staff time and resources for other projects, and the loss of political (not their own but the city’s, hence our’s) capital that could impact public support for future projects. The erosion in public trust and confidence in the current process (as evidenced by the many letters and comments in the local media plus more than 5,000 signatures in just a few weeks on a petition to “save the beach”) has a significant, non-monetary cost that could have a significant impact in the future when it comes to gaining support for a critical project.
    Finally, to address the last point. Some members of the council continue to present this project as a “false dichotomy”—either there is no project, or it is this project—and use fear and emotion to garner support—someone could die if we don’t do this. I believe that the majority of people that have expressed their concerns about this project recognize and support the need for something to provide emergency support access to the area west of the railroad tracks; there are many comments proposing suggestions and there are existing alternatives that were evaluated but eliminated using a subjective analysis. I also believe that the majority of Edmonds residents would support an alternative that does not terminate in a protected marine conservation area and that could have significant environmental impacts that have yet to be determined. Thus, the use of fear and emotion— “what is the casualty limit that triggers a response” or “and to those who say we have yet to suffer such a loss of life or loss of property, how long should we wait”—is unnecessary and counterproductive. I would suggest instead that if there is such a grave concern, many of the solutions that were considered and have been put forth by residents would more quickly address this problem than the proposed Waterfront Connector which is unlikely to see the light of day for many years if ever. If we are so concerned about lives and loss of property, we should look to more immediate and yes cost-effective solutions.

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    1. Ms. Elmore-Yatch,

      I admire your calm and intelligent reply to our councilpersons’ theatrical response to your original letter. I found the points you brought forth in the first letter and this follow-up informative. I understand if Mr. Teitzel and Mr. Mesaros wanted to offer some additional thoughts to consider, but I would hope that our elected officials would do it as you did, with a “Here are some additional pieces of information” approach vs. the misleading characterization (the need to “correct” you when in reality they mostly said you were right but wanted to add more information) and condescending tone. I regret that you had to experience that attempt to “put you in your place” (whether or not they believed that to be their intention), particularly in a public forum, when all you did was thoughtfully provide insight and ask questions. I am disappointed by their chosen approach.

      Tone aside, again, I understand if they thought we might be missing a part of the puzzle and wanted to help complete the picture. I appreciate your follow-up here in the comments to provide further filling in of the picture. I found the importance of community support, repairing crumbling infrastructure, and economic vitality in these grants especially relevant.

      To Mr. Teitzel and Mr. Mesaros, I have been searching out all I can learn on this topic so appreciate our council helping us understand the reason for your decision. I found myself disappointed twice by your letter, this second time by lack of a firm plan. The content of your response was centered around guesses–about the availability of funds and the decisions that the administration will make–and hope–that we will be the selected recipients for grant funds applied for, yet to be submitted, and still being investigated.

      You made the point, “To conclude that this project is not financially feasible at this still early date is both incorrect and premature.” (Although I would argue that it’s either premature or incorrect, but can’t be both.) That may be true. But what seems equally true is that there is still not a clear and predictable plan for funding the project. Therefore, I would flip your statement around and say that it sounds like it is premature to conclude definitively that this project IS financially feasible. Perhaps that’s normal at this early date (if so, I’d appreciate learning more about the normal course of these projects), but it sure seems like we are moving full-speed ahead and preparing to invest real money, beyond the “relatively minor” $250,000 already spent, without confidence that the expected funds will materialize, and therefore risking that our city and citizens will bear a greater cost than expected.

      All for something that SO many people don’t want, and to solve a problem for which many faster, more cost-effective, less disruptive, less destructive solutions have been proposed.

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  11. The odds of a major fire and a stalled train are pretty small. I’m a transportation engineer. A derailed train is the most likely scenario that would cause both, and a connector overpass could even statistically exacerbate such a scenerio, as overpasses and other structures are a common factor in such incidents. I think a connector would create some margin of safety, but the beachfront is’nt dangerous as is. The risk assessment matrix here is flawed. Cost vs Risks must be proportionate. Not all costs are monetary. Look at that connector. Look at the beach aestetically and environmentally.

    The bighest public safety concern relating to transportation in Edmonds is a truck driving through our farmers market. Bollards to protect our market are pretty cheap. About 5 years ago a high speed chase ended at the water fountain on 5th and Main, and the car was pitted just before it could have crashed into the market. Public Safety. Is this a real concern or a convenient concern? I’ve been asking the city for Bollards for years. I renewed those calls in 2016 after Nice France. The cost is so relatively cheap. Where are the bollards?

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    1. That’s a good point about the bollards and the market. I hadn’t thought about that – but now. Yeah. That could be bad.
      The most dangerous place as far as transportation goes in Edmonds is the stretch of 99 right before 234th. Lots of pedestrian fatalities, lots of accidents – from your view as a transportation engineer, have you looked at this area at all? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. It seems like this area gets ignored because it’s not the favored part of Edmonds, yet it is still part of our city.

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      1. You’re right. I live and work just in a 3 block area. Anecdotally, I am limited. I dont believe anyone believes that the waterfront is unsafe as is. It’s a development project, a special interest. We can respect that, keeping it real.

        99 can be dodgy, people not using crosswalk I heard?

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        1. Susan agreed. What said, if there are federal monies and public safety concerns needing to be addressed, then Highway 99 improvements would be a more progressive and appropriate place to start. Why add a bridge over the beach when highway 99 safety is a more pressing concern?

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  12. When did our elected officials stop listening to the people? We used to have leaders that really did represent our community. A few years ago, yes, but there are Several current issues regarding Edmonds now that the people do not want but our officials are not listening. Why have they stopped listening to we the people?

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  13. So far, Neil Tibbot, Mike Nelson, present city councilmen and Brad Shipley are the candidates for mayor. Has anyone else entered the race?
    I hope they are prepared for questions about the waterfront connector when we have candidates night.
    Something I have not heard much about is the construction project itself.
    Earlier I proposed the idea that a model be made of the project. Someone suggested that there is a class at one of the high schools that makes models. I think a model could help us make a better decision.

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  14. Finally people are coming to their senses on this ill conceived, not needed boondoggle of a project. Only Edmonds politicians and some of their more sheep like followers would come up with the idea of a bridge on a beach. If we must build a bridge, let’s build it inland over roads that already exist for heavens sake. Of course the truth is all we need is a couple signs warning that there is a slight chance train traffic could present a more than usual risk to public safety that cannot be avoided. That would put the lawsuit onus on BNSF where it belongs, instead of the City. Of course that’s too simple and cheap for Edmonds, where seemingly only rich people live and money is no object. Plus we need to get our fair share of those “free” federal funds.

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    1. Nope – BNSF enjoys Federal preemption from and City efforts to compel to alter is right of way. Better to build a ambulance and triage station on the West side of the tracks, say where the rebuilt Senior Center will be.

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  15. Whomever wrote that very educational letter for my fellow Councilmembers should get credit and therefore I would like to thank the Administration on this very explanatory letter. In addition to this huge financial drain – let’s talk about the environment and how this out of scale massive concrete structure that will be obtrusive from the beach and block most of continuous current shoreline view from Sunset will ruin our only public beach north of the ferry. While I am not a scientist anyone who can conceptualize the construction of those major piling to support that massive concrete structure knows that it will destroy the environment that our fish (and sea life) need to forage, rest, and migrate alone the shore. That Marine Sanctuary known as Brackett’s Landing needs to be protected and common sense should indicate this structure should not even make it pass the (EIS) or environmental impact study which the City has yet to complete.

    And while I am not a transportation expert – it is clear to me this “connector” will ultimately be a load and off load for a third ferry. This “emergency access” now known as the Waterfront Connector is a legacy project that should be reconsidered as we must think about our future generations and our needs for open space, public beaches and unobstructed views of this he horizon.

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    1. Diane,
      We very seldom see eye to eye.
      Thank you for disclosing, which is most likely the real reason for Earlings push on the “connector”, that Washington State Ferries is going to be adding a third ferry to the Edmonds/Kingston run. A vital piece to the puzzle. As far as I have every seen, or remember, this has not been broadcast to the Citizens of Edmonds.
      Also, when they are boring down for the pilings, if one, or multiple, Native American artifact(s) are found, wouldn’t that bring the entire project to a halt?

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      1. It is good that Diane is helping folks understand related issues. The ferry system has always said it was planning for 3 boats on this run. They have also expressed an interest to have a full boat load of cars west of the tracks. What they would also like to do is make Edmonds at least 2 slips and possibly 3. It would allow for overnight storage of the boats. Better service in the future.

        We all remember when the plan was to move the ferry docs near the property they own that was the Union Oil property. They have stated they are not likely to use it so it could become surplus, used as a bargaining chip with Edmonds other uses. What should be done for this property is a robust public discussion now about its future use vs a plan being develop without full public input to only meet the same robust discussion like we are having with the Connector and just had with the parking issue and Civic field.

        My guess their are some folks who would like to use the UO property in ways we do not yet know but driving by the notion of “saving the marsh”. Nice idea but other ideas may will be just as useful for all of Edmonds.

        So thanks to Diane for reminding us of some of the ferry system plans. Clearly these plans impact our waterfront. So will the addition of the second track.

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      2. Brent,
        If this allegation were true, I would immediately oppose the waterfront connector project as it is currently proposed. Is it true? If not, what is the factual basis for the allegation?

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        1. Mr. Teitzel,

          Allegation? I was responding to the written statement of Councilwoman Buckshnis, who openly stated there will be a third (3rd) ferry added by Washington State Ferries to the Edmonds/Kingston route, apparently Councilwoman Buckshnis knows something of their future plans. I have not heard of this in over six years, so to me this was very interesting, and new- relevant- information. Mr. Teitzel, you are seated on the City Council, and you have not been informed of a third ferry to the E/K Ferry run? How can City Council make informed decisions, without all the pertinent facts?

          Darrol Haug (above), has also confirmed that there are plans in the works by the Washington State Ferry System to add one additional ferry, for a total of three, and more ferry terminals as well. Mr. Haug is on committees in the know, so I would assume that what he has stated is in fact, accurate. That represents two people who have expressed there are current plans by the State Ferry System to add a third ferry to the E/K run. Thus, we can accurately assume the stated future proposal is factual, and not an allegation. Thus, my query to Councilwoman Buckshnis, who has not replied.

          Or, are you referencing my question regarding if they dig into “Tribal” artifacts during pillar boring, under Federal Law, is the whole “Connector Bridge” brought to a halt? Again, Councilwoman Buckshnis has not replied to the question addressed to her.

          Tribal historical rights are undisputed, if artifacts were, or are found, would it not bring the process to a halt? If you do not know the answer, I do not, would it not be an informative question to be asked of a local, or Federal, Tribal attorney? Throwing this “unknown”, but not out of the question situation into the mix, makes this entire proposal no different than going to the roulette wheel and picking red, or black, with Taxpayer money and spinning the wheel. Native Northwest Indians were everywhere in Salish Sea/Puget Sound, as this was— their land. We have an “Indian Tree” on the property, you can study the history of those trees, if you do not know of them. It is a massive, old beautiful tree!

          The only logical, prudent coarse of action is for Council to scrap this planned location, not to mention it is being proposed in a Beach “Sanctuary”- no less.

          Since the necessity of this bridge is based primarily on extreme hypothetical’s, as it appears extreme hypothetical’s are now the basis for decisions, then the City should build a Sea Wall all around the beach, about 60 feet high, which may not be high enough. Plate-tectonics experts, along with the USGS have warned for years that we are going to experience a massive earthquake, if not today, tomorrow, or sometime in the near future. Since I more align with the cataclysmic school of geological theory, and if we were to experience a mountain building fracture of the plates, along with a large upthrust, dislocation (vertical or slip), let’s just say, life near the Sound will mostly be obliterated, what would be left will be changed forever. The Japan tsunami reached an amplitude of sixty feet, think about that, 60 feet!! With the plates directly under Puget Sound one can best envision the toll on this area easily, take a bowl of water, and swirl it around.
          With a potential run up of well over 100 feet, due to wave length, and/or constructive wave building, in all- not a good outcome. The potential energy of our local faults can be equal too, or even produce magnitudes greater than the rupture which caused the Japan event. With the faults directly below us, there will probably be no warning. This is a known scientific fact, a real threat, it’s just a matter of magnitude, depth, duration, and ultimately when. In such a case the “Connector Bridge” will almost be guaranteed to fail from the quake, or rendered useless from a slope failure.

          If there were an earthquake of major significance, and by chance a train happened to become derailed in downtown blocking the roads, and then the marina caught on fire due to a collapse. I would only assume, the Fire Department would prioritize the marina fire as a non-issue in relation to life threatening rescues and other situations going on. Property damage and loss is a very low priority when compared to people.
          Without the hypothetical “perfect storm”, the odds are pretty darn low as any logical reason to build the bridge. Even in a “perfect storm”, a small non-rigid golf cart structure would allow egress, and a rapid deployment cart for critically injured.

          The reality is, it is impractical to attempt to address every hypothetical.
          Fed, or State grants, are ultimately Taxpayer money.
          And no, we don’t need the Sea Wall, any more than the “Connector Bridge”.

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        2. We don’t need to allege or guess if the “allegation” of a third ferry is factual or true. We only need to refer to WSF Long-Range Plan released in January 2019 (https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019/01/07/WSF-2040-Long-Range-Plan-2019.pdf) to find out. Look specifically at page 91 and it clearly states that service frequency will be increased to 30 minute headways, accomplished by replacing the existing 188- and 202-vehicle vessel operation to operate three
          smaller 144-vehicle vessels with 30-minute peak headways.

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        3. Brent, I sit on no committee in the know… just listened well at many public presentations and did the same research Rebecca cites. Also in the doc referenced, a few pages earlier is the implementation need to have increased holding area capacity to have a full boat load available for loading. That statement has been cited before as a desire to have expanded doc facilities. Council member Buckshnis has always be willing to share information. Good job! It is reasonable to expect that with 3 boats on the run one would want to store one or more boats in Edmonds and not all 3 in Kingston. Just wanted to clear up that I have no special information, just what is publicly available.

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      3. Brent,
        The first sentence of the second paragraph of Councilmember Buckshnis’ comment of June 12 states “And while I am not a transportation expert – it is clear to me this “connector” will ultimately be a load and off load for a third ferry.” In reply, you stated “Thank you for disclosing, which is most likely the real reason for Earlings push on the “connector”, that Washington State Ferries is going to be adding a third ferry to the Edmonds/Kingston run. A vital piece to the puzzle.” It appears you have accepted as factual that WSDOT has plans to use the waterfront connector for loading and offloading vehicles for the third ferry. I don’t believe this is factual, but would invite Councilmember Buckshnis to provide any supporting documentation she has seen to support her statement. WSDOT will eventually add a third ferry on the Edmonds/Kingston route, and when that occurs, the only offloading via the connector related to the third ferry would be for rare instances when a train is standing still on the tracks and blocking egress for an extended time. As I stated earlier, if I am presented with facts showing the connector would be used for any purpose other than what has been presented to the public, I will oppose the waterfront connector as proposed. Until then, my hope is we can base our positions on this issue on facts and not unfounded statements.

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        1. Dave,
          It is my understanding you attended the Mayor’s State of the City presentation 2018. Mayor Earling recognized you in the audience. Without any doubt and recorded your attendance for the record, Mayor Dave Earling stated the Water Front Connector would be used to load and off load the ferry and maybe five or six times a year!

          Now who decides when WSDOT would use this bridge structure for loading and unloading? Please be factual, accuracy is so important!

          Let’s remember local government told us that Paine Field would never be used for commercial air traffic. Maybe, the Port of Seattle built a third runaway at Sea-Tac for emergency landings only.

          I have a wetland I would like to sell you.

          Foremost, I want to thank all the citizens that have expressed their opposition of this truly mayoral ill fancied project that will impact a very important marine environment. The citizens outrage reminds me of the King County Brightwater proposal at Point Wells and the importance of citizen involvement in the political process of major public works projects.

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        2. Dave,

          “base our positions on this issue on facts”, well Dave, the fact is there has NEVER been a life threatening emergency egress from the beach, which was blocked by the trains. You are correct, you should deal in facts, not made up hypothetical drama.

          Life has shown, and this is how these tend to play out, the devil is always hidden in the details. First, for reference: Remember the new Park/play field, we could not add parking stalls, because the grants were already accepted and spelled out NO parking. (Read MEN articles)

          Regarding Earling’s professed statements related to the frequency of use of the “Legacy Bridge”, this should make it easy for Citizens to understand the “Three Card Monte” game in government.

          The “Grant Money” being supplied by WashDOT, Washington State Ferries, and Sound Transit, will each be accompanied by an extremely lengthy legal contract, every minute detail defined, page after page.

          WashDOT, Washington State Ferry System and Sound Transit, need only add the following to any of their Grant documents, and watch what happens: (buried deep on page 23, in the legalese)
          (By the acceptance of the $ 12,000,000.00 (whatever sum) in “Grant Monies” from XXXX agency, the City of Edmonds, as recipient of the defined Grant funding, SHALL relinquish all control and decision(s) making authority, including frequency of use of all surface streets, or roads as directly related to, or needed for the embarkation and disembarkation of the Washington State Ferry System, solely, and in perpetuity, to the Washington State Patrol, and or jointly along with the Washington State Ferry System. This Shall be applicable at any time during the operational hours of the Washington State Ferry System, and or, at the discretion of those solely defined, in perpetuity.)

          The Citizens and Taxpayers, pay attention. Remember Sound Transit, when Dave Earling and the Sound Transit Board intentionally lied to Edmonds, Snohomish County and the entire State regarding ST-3?

          At which point Earling’s “Legacy Connector Bridge” can and could be used anytime by the Wash. State Ferry System, whenever they so desire. The Grant contract(s) and State authority, TRUMPS the City of Edmonds. Regardless if it is a five minute delay, a two minute delay, if a train is over one mile away and approaching, a new way to load and unload cars, or new lane routing, whenever WSF feels like using the bridge, usage would be at their sole discretion.

          Then City Hall would say:
          We had no idea that language such as this was in the document(s), we have already accepted and spent some of the money on more studies, more changes orders, and on the EIS. We can not give the money back, we are too far along into the process to stop at this point, or the Taxpayers will be saddled with a $ 10,000,000.00 bill. (oh, the double-bind)

          The City of Edmonds will not be the entity which defines, or controls the language of the “Grant Money” documents. To think otherwise, would define that Edmonds will tell Grantor’s, “Edmonds terms and conditions” to accept “Grant Money”, and the Grantor would simply supply the money and comply with Edmonds stated demands? Good luck, not the way it works in the real world.

          Dave Teitzel, Good for every Taxpayer and Voter to know, that you are all in for Earling’s Legacy Bridge–which will destroy the Beach “Sanctuary”, when simpler solutions are know.

          Cars stranded? the ferry can easily transport them to Kingston, or Mukilteo dock, it’s designed to do that, the boat does float.

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  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Diane. I hope you oppose putting any more money into this ill conceived project at next week’s Council Meeting. It’s seems to me that certain outgoing politicians are super boosting this thing as some sort of legacy of their great management during their terms of office. (I bet with, just a teeny weeny bit of coaxing, we could even get them to let us name this “safety” connector project after them.) In fairness, I suspect they may mean well, but they are not listening to the will of the people. If the majority do really support this, they sure are the “silent” majority. It is time to put in a Mayor and Council that listen to the will of the people. You have my vote Diane.

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  17. Peter Gibson:
    The bridge, which I do not support, and EMS resources are apples and oranges. State and Federal money is not available for EMS needs; the bridge is a one-time capital expense and EMS is an annual operating expense.

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    1. I think his point was why is this being advertised as a safety issue when the majority of council voted against public safety when they voted to cut fire services?
      But to your point about Federal funding – there are other places we should be using that money. If we exhaust our Federal ask on this bridge, it’s not as if the Federal Government is going to be really eager to shell out even more money in the near future for other, more urgent projects – like revitalizing and making Hwy 99 more safe – which incidentally actually has fatalities. Not hypothetical deaths. People actually die in the stretch with no crosswalks and very little traffic control up before 234th. That is Edmonds – albeit a neglected portion of Edmonds. Still, it belongs to us and deserves attention and care. So it’s fiscally irresponsible to completely exhaust Federal funding to build the connector. There are less expensive and less environmentally damaging things we could do down there. Highway 99 needs our attention now.

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      1. We have covered Highway 99 safety issues several times, as they have come before council, including the stats on injuries and fatalities — as well as possible solutions. See it highlighted in this story from our 7-part series on Highway 99 last year: https://myedmondsnews.com/2018/05/transforming-highway-99-project-aimed-at-improving-traffic-safety-but-will-it-reduce-crime-too/ and the most recent council story here, which has a link to another more specific discussion: https://myedmondsnews.com/2019/05/council-talks-highway-99-housing-commission-staffing-mayor-announces-hr-directors-resignation/

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    2. Fire and EMS grants from the federal government are available in various forms for staffing.
      These are apples and oranges, I agree. But the bridge is being built so that responders can respond. The bridge is pointless if all the Edmonds units are tied up on other emergencies. Since our council is currently concerned with public safety, I would like to see them bring back the staffing levels of 2016.

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  18. These commentaries present much needed clarity to the Edmonds Waterfront Connector (EWC) conundrum.
    This discussion of the importance of accuracy on the financing side is great and I agree educational. Accuracy on the related natural resource side of the EWC project, particularly with regard to site selection aspects – accuracy has also been elusive, and unfortunately appears to be a greater challenge to remedy with public discussion.
    Simply put, an accurate representation of the 50 EWC candidate sites would have provided details that one site, Brackett’s Landing Marine Sanctuary Park (BLMSP) is a Washington State Marine Conservation Area, with all the requisite City and State regulatory protections, and additional permitting processes and costs compared to non-shoreline site options, like Options 2-3.
    In this regard, the most obvious inaccuracy is that the word “conservation” does not appear in the City’s EWC website 200+ pages of public guidance documents (correct me if I am wrong).
    In this discussion, the good news is that inaccuracy of financial elements of the EWC are being fairly aired out by experts on all sides, Council included. The bad news is that the inaccuracies on the natural resource management side of the site selection process have had no such opportunity. Imagine a financial evaluation process that never mentioned the word GRANT or BUILD. Really, imagine that, its a tough row to hoe.
    Perhaps public commentaries like this one can help to mitigate the City’s “inaccuracies” both financial and resource value based as the EWC moves forward.
    Perhaps such discussions can help inform all that the City and the commenting public is no less responsible for accurately representing and updated real costs of the EWC project, as it is responsible for accurately represent the natural resource values of each Connector site option, including the value of exceptionally valuable and unique Marine Conservation Area park land in Edmonds.
    I say this: Here in Edmonds in June 2019 – as Proclaimed by the Mayor to be the “Month of the Orca” what would be accurate and right on the natural resources side of the matter – would be for Council and or the citizens to offer their own proclamation in response.
    Perhaps this would be an Accurate Proclamation:
    Whereas in June the Month of the Orca, the Puget Sound Southern Resident Orca need Chinook Salmon that live in Brackett’s Landing Marine Sanctuary, and whereas the Park is a Washington State Marine Conservation Area where the salmon reside, and whereas the Conservation Area they depend on for health and sustenance is managed by the City of Edmonds, the City of Edmonds therefore shall refrain from using any of the Park land for non-conservation oriented substantial development until the Orca and Salmon population have recovered and are removed from the threatened / endangered species list.
    Is that accurate?

    Thomas Sawtell
    Edmonds, WA 98020

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  19. Responding to Councilmember Teitzel – Once again, if the ferry is only going to be off-loaded with the Connector in a rare case of a “long-lasting” blockage, why did Mayor Earling state in his “State of the City” on February 22, 2018 (48 minutes into his speech he wrote) that the ferry will use it to be LOADED & UNLOADED 5-6 times a year? Were the citizens told this during the decision-making process? What is the definition of a “long-lasting” blockage? More and longer trains moving through our town could become the definition of extended blockage, even if they are moving and not broken down.
    And to the City please stop using the old mock-up sketch of the Connector from 2016 (that was just used in the Q13 story yesterday) as it is structurally obsolete and is not an accurate rendition of the current project, and include in it the the 10 foot suicide barriers that will be necessary.

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  20. I want to emphasize John Hoag’s statement about the inaccuracy of the artist’s image of the overpass. I think that image led many of us to complacency: we didn’t like the plan but maybe we could live with it. Then when we were presented with more realistic images, those who care about the beach rose up against it.

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  21. Thanks Mike for the heads up on this report. The Mayor states that he is just in favor of people on both sides of the tracks having equal safety protection. (Makes me think he has read my sign comments perhaps). I think he makes a valid point, but I question that the solution he supports is the right answer to the problem. This Connector thing, as configured, is a veritable mine field of potential financial burdens for us citizens. If they find one human bone in the excavation process at that sight, you can plan on paying lawyers lots of money to mitigate Tribal complaints. You can also plan on spending money on litigation by environmental groups based on it’s location. It’s time for Earling and the planning boards to admit they have dropped the ball on this and move on to another solution of some sort. My own personal opinion remains that this is not the City’s problem to solve as the City isn’t creating it. That seems to me to be a good Conservative viewpoint that you think someone with Mayor Earling’s political leanings might be able to embrace, if he put some more thought into it.

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