The people have spoken. The Sunset connector is dead. We have wisely decided not to waste further money studying a concept that would never have been accepted by the Edmonds community. The fatal flaw in this idea existed at its onset, yet went undiscovered, or more likely unheard. As a member of council, I would insist we take a hard look at the process that got us here. Wider and more diverse viewpoints coupled with open discussions are needed to avoid repeating this process. We can all agree that a good process and good representative government is the best course and, although passionate public involvement is important, we should never have to rely on last minute protests to rescue a flawed process and work product from a bad outcome. Having grown up in Edmonds, and planning my future here, I want to make sure we have a process that gets this right.
There remains a problem Edmonds needs to solve: continuous access to the waterfront. The city needs to look at the other crossing options for pedestrian and basic emergency services in the short run. We also need to look at the research already completed for the other options and work with engaging the public in a more focused manner. I am in favor of being bold Let’s continue, or start if necessary, earnest discussions with our citizens about “The Edmonds Crossing Project.” This project would move the ferry terminal south, incorporate a train station, bus terminal, and provide flexible vehicle storage for ferry traffic. An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has already been conducted for this approach. If this project were phased, it could meet our short term (emergency access) and long term (second slip, ferry holding area, etc.) needs. Building in phases would be a necessary component of a project this size. Edmonds should prioritizethe grade separated crossing portion of the concept from other elements of the project. In other words, plan for the future in a big way, but start with what is needed first, the grade separated crossing structure which allows continuous emergency access to the waterfront. As with any project of this scope, we will face challenges; funding, environmental impacts/concerns, property impacts, effectiveness, timing, business and access impacts during construction, costs to name a few. But facing these challenges together provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with each other about what is important and how to best meet the needs of our community.
I’ve spent my career as a civil engineer designing and delivering these types of complicated infrastructure projects. I’ve learned through my years on the planning board that they require genuine consensus, strategic long term planning, and thoughtful execution coupled with strong leadership.
Edmonds is a great city and deserves a great solution to this very real access and safety problem. I am confident that with the right leadership and open and transparent government, the right solution can and will be found.