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.