Letter to the editor: Council should reconsider motion to do connector environmental studies

Editor:

Watching the connector issue with the understanding the reason for the project was foremost a public safety issue, I find the actions of the Council unfortunate.  The grant funding Edmonds received and expects to receive for other projects in the future could be at risk. It appears the political aspect became more important than the intended solution.

Professionally I understand high priority projects, they have to compete with numerous programs. Obtaining funding, even for a worthy issue, is always hard fought. After years of knowing and defining the problem, going through numerous hoops and working with several stakeholders to ensure proper buy-in, including hiring a lobbyist and visits by the mayor and city council members working with federal, state, and other authorities to support this effort, the abandonment appears unjustified. Instead of a waypoint decision for adjusting or stopping the project, Edmonds has gone the distance with majority agreement, only at the last minute to defeat the project.

With so many competing cities within our state and around our nation and so little available funds, legislatures and grant authorities are careful in choosing worthwhile projects when granting funding. Those who provide funding for projects like this one, do not expect the project to get this far down the road without commitment from those who have advocated for it.

Several citizens objected to the project, especially those who have homes in the immediate vicinity and those who having environmental and other objections. They did an exemplary job of expressing their opinions. But based on the multi-year process we have to believe these issues were well known and vetted over the course of this project period. Those of us who watched the council’s actions expected this was all taken into account, that appropriate changes were made as the council cautiously proceeded, expended resources and obtained the project funding.

So, what’s the answer? We have a public safety and congestion issue that is not going away. Regardless of any solution, likely some groups and individuals will object. It seems that to start the process over again would bear out similar conclusions and issues, especially if the project’s permanent solution needs to incorporate going over or under the rail tracks in this same general vicinity.

Finally, what is hard to understand is the defeat of the amendment to the motion offered by Councilmember Dave Teitzel; an amendment to proceed with the environment studies.  This is important because if this project is, in fact, worthwhile.  We expect some solution at some point will address the challenge. It appears there is a need for an environmental study, which can take some time.  Surely it seems prudent the city council should reconsider Councilmember Teizel’s motion.

Jay Grant
Edmonds

6 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Council should reconsider motion to do connector environmental studies”

  1. I would prefer to spend $2.35 million on coming up with a better solution than evaluating the impact of this monstrocity. Anything that costs $30 million is way too big.

    Ignored

  2. Please stop using the talking point “Safety” when it comes to the connector. The only reason the city was using this talking point is because it made it easier to get state and federal money. It was also a way to have a debate the if you opposed this you were for killing people. (NOT TRUE)

    The facts do not back up the safety concern that was being used. Not one death do to the train blockage, not one person not receiving medical attention because of a train blockage, Not one fire that burned a building to the ground do to a train blockage. Again the talking point makes us all “FEEL” like we need to do something. But the “FACTS” so not support a major concrete walking path that may or may not ever be used for waterfront emergencies with a 30 million dollar price tag and destruction to our beach.

    Remember that we all must look at the facts and not the talking points. Talking points are for the uneducated and the uninformed. What I mean are people that don’t pay attention and educate themselves on the issue (uneducated) or who only read the headlines (uninformed) but not the substance.

    I am not talking about the person writing this article, I am talking about it in a generalization.

    Ignored

  3. Don’t throw good money after bad. It was the right move to NOT “supplement” the consultant’s agreement with City of Edmonds – the consultant led us astray!

    The consultant’s work contained a material error with regard to the factor “Reliable Emergency Access,” giving preference to a northern connection at the Brackett’s Landing waterfront.

    This approach is flawed as described in the Fire District’s annual report to council July 21, 2015 where a single incident that they trained for could defeat all 3 vehicular access routes. Putting all of our eggs in one basket is not reliable access. A waterfront connector via an extension at the south end represents superior reliability. The consultant erred.

    Without reviewing Council archives, this issue can be illustrated by one of the consultants’ own “Extended” blocked crossing incidents (of which only 5 actually involved a train physically blocking both crossings simultaneously). If standing water indeed blocked fire apparatus access to the waterfront for 30 minutes, wouldn’t Railroad Avenue and/or the parking lot at the dive park have been flooded to a similar extent, thereby also defeating the northern connection to the waterfront!?

    Another oversight by the consultant is how the City’s 2009 agreement with the Fire District acknowledges that current fire stations are not ideally located and that the City’s needs may be better met by 2 stations in more strategic locations than the current 3 stations (Council member Johnson herself raised this topic just last month). Therefore, the consultant’s basis for the emergency access route should not have considered the proximity to a current fire station, especially given the emphasis that the project is planning for the future.

    It is also unclear why presentations continue to identify a “need” for the Waterfront Connector based upon delays resulting from increasing train traffic when an “Immediate Action” recommended back in 2016 by a prior consultant was to have train traffic stopped in order to maintain clear crossings when a 911 call west of the tracks is received.

    The consultant also fails to demonstrate a “need” based upon the 1 or 2 fire/aid calls per week to the waterfront. A 2006 Resolution of our Council only seeks a timely response to 90% of fire/aid calls. With 100+ calls per week, calls to the waterfront are only 1 or 2% of the call volume and well within the 10% allowance which need not meet the City’s standards for timely responses.

    The consultant should be held accountable to for its errors, not rewarded with an extension.

    Ignored

  4. Let’s keep this simple. Spending a couple million for environmental studies to figure out if putting cement pillars on the beach is bad is an act of stupidity. So simple.

    Ignored

  5. Dear Jay, I completely agree with your letter. We need a bridge! I was so mad that after so many years, the city council gave into the thugs who came to their meeting. Have you seen how many cars are around? The bridge could go from the ferry to Lynnwood and it wouldn’t carry all of the traffic! Future generations will have to pay for all the bridges we don’t have yet. I can’t wait until they we vote out this city council and replace them with a pro-connector city council! Vote out the Mayor too! We should build a viaduct freeway like seattle’s but with a walkway so people can see the water.

    Ignored

  6. I agree with Mr. Dale above. Spending a small fortune of taxpayer money to decide if building a concrete bridge next to a Marine Sanctuary Beach is a good idea? This sounds like something you might read in a cartoon.

    Speaking as one of the “thug”s (proud “thug” I might add) who helped get this nonsense stopped, I have a couple novel suggestions. Why don’t we build roads and bridges where we all ready have roads?
    Likewise, why don’t we build parking lots where we already have parking lots? No, never, this is Edmonds. We’d prefer to build our bridge on a beach and our parking lot in a city park. Makes for a better cartoon city, I guess.

    Ignored

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