CITY COUNCIL VOTES 4-3 TO STOP FUNDING OF EDMONDS STREET VIADUCT

2019 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION PREVIEW

WITH THE ELECTION RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER, YOUR CHOICE IN CANDIDATES CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN PROTECTING OUR MARINE SANCTUARY, UNDERWATER PARK AND SHORELINE.  NOSUNSETCONNECTOR.COM HAS CONTACTED ALL THE CANDIDATES REGARDING THEIR POSITION ON THIS ISSUE TO PUBLISH ON OUR WEBSITE.  PLEASE CONSIDER THEIR POSITIONS WHEN YOU VOTE! 



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Mayoral Candidates

Mike Nelson -  (published in Edmonds Beacon June 18, 2019)

“I do not support the connector and will vote against continued funding. The main reason I voted against the connector is because we have more urgent public safety issues throughout our city.

“We should have reliable emergency access to the other side of the tracks, but the very costly connector is not the answer.

“I am also deeply concerned about the potential environmental harm to the Brackett's Landing Shoreline Sanctuary.

“Let’s re-evaluate more affordable solutions that do not harm our beaches and our waterfront.”

Brad Shipley -  

The Edmonds Waterfront Connector is what happens when engineers and representatives from major transportation agencies design things for themselves—all function, no form. 

Destroying the beach with a ”freeway” off-ramp should be considered a “fatal flaw” just as BNSF considered any alteration to their tracks a ”fatal flaw.” 

A new solution can be found. I hope City Council will put an end to this nonsense. It is clear the community dislikes the Connector. 

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. 

Neil Tibbott - Voted against Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector project

 

(published in Edmonds Beacon June 19, 2019) On Wednesday, Tibbott said the reason he changed his mind on the connector was because of comments councilmembers received, as well as comments he’s heard while meeting a wide variety of people in Edmonds over the last couple of months.

“I heard from a diversity of voices from across our city,” Tibbott said. “The opposition to the connector did not come from one group, and it wasn’t just one reason. But when I put them together, I could not justify spending more money to study an option that was clearly not going to be acceptable no matter what the design or who paid for it.”

Tibbott said he also disagreed with the characterization made by some councilmembers that the administration favors one part of the city over another.

“It’s simply not accurate,” he said. “We have infrastructure projects in various phases of design and construction happening constantly. We’ve actually secured more grant funding for Highway 99 than we have for the connector.”

In order to move forward, Tibbott said he wants to review the work of the connector task force and sift through the 51 options they studied.

“I want to know if anything has changed since the study was done, and what new information we have now. One of the co-chairs changed his mind shortly after the recommendation was made, and I think it’s important for us to know what happened.

“We also need to summarize the concerns that were raised about the connector because they represent values that will drive whatever solutions we implement in the future. The concerns I heard had a unifying theme, and we need to capture that input to make better choices for the future.”

Kristiana Johnson - Never responded to nosunsetconnector.com for a position statement. Voted for Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector Project. 

City Council Position 4

Diane Buckshnis, Incumbent -  I have been opposed to the Connector once we received the preliminary designs for it after an exhaustive process that is keyed towards Transportation rather than the Environment.  It will ruin the environment and the ONLY public beach north of the Ferry.  Alternative options while reviewed did not take into account the massive expense of its effect on the environment.  Our City should first perform an environmental impact of this massive obstruction on the Bracketts Landing North Marine Sanctuary which is also the International renown Dive Park.  I have been quoted many times in the media outlying my position and alternatives that could be considered.  Further, I found out while on my trip to Washington DC with the Mayor and two of his Directors that the Administration has not been upfront with the tremendous burden this monstrosity will have on the Edmonds taxpayers as the City’s “buy in” for this $30 million dollar project is more than 50% which is why the Mayor pitched this to our Federal legislators. 


Jenna Nand -  "Jenna Nand has consistently spoken out against the connector. As a longtime resident of Edmonds, Jenna that believes such drastic development on our waterfront is out of step with Edmonds’ small town charm. Jenna also believes that taxpayer funds would be more responsibly spent on infrastructure projects on Highway 99, which has multiple pedestrian fatalities occur every year due to the lack of crosswalks. If elected to Edmonds City Council, Jenna vows to protect our beautiful Edmonds beaches from unwanted development projects.” 

City Council Position 5

Alicia Crank - I do not approve of the Waterfront Connector project.  I fully support needing a plan /infrastructure for emergencies, but the final result needs to make good business and safety sense throughout its planning.  I know that there were multiple discussions, community input and planning from city staff and council for several years, but there should have been some pivoting as more details, new information and a bigger picture started to emerge: increased costs, lack of supporting staff resources (police and fire), whether or not emergency access easement would be granted. The last item is too big of an "if" to commit so many taxpayer dollars to without having alternatives in place. It is time to pivot and reexamine.

While an argument can be made for both sides of the living standards issue, I believe it is important to put more weight on how the current project would affect area residents on a day-to-day basis versus the occasional emergency it is being planned to manage. In my opinion, the current plan's inconveniences significantly outweigh the possible benefit it would provide on occasion. This alone should warrant discussion/revisiting alternative solutions and resources. I would support reallocating funds and other related resources to more immediate public safety needs, such as adding much needed additional staff to the fire stations as well as safety provisions along the Highway 99 corridor.


Vivian Olson - Does  Edmonds need any above-grade connector?

I  pursued an answer to this question. My best data came from the study commissioned by the State of Washington Joint Transportation Committee. Every at-grade crossing in the State was included. The report, published in Jan 2017, “Prioritization of Prominent  Road-Rail Conflicts in Washington State,” prioritizes Edmonds (and others) for funding of above-grade crossing projects (Page 28 of the report). This pre-prioritization explains why State funding came through so quickly on the City-approved Edmonds Street  Waterfront Connector. Quoted from the report’s Executive Summary, “At-grade crossings, where roads cross railroad tracks at the same level, can typically function adequately while populations and traffic levels are low.”

They  aren’t. 

Edmonds’  at-grade crossings, and all others on the State’s prioritized list, are currently blocked an average of two hours daily (Executive Summary, Page iii and iv). This slows response times for ambulance, police, and fire even during regular train operations; and  response is completely stopped along with the stopped train, when the train is unyielding at the crossings. Good government should be looking ahead for infrastructure planning….

It  will get worse.

 

Please  read the study, if you don’t agree with the conclusion of the State (and the three consulting companies behind the study: Transpogroup, Parametrix, and Berk) that we need an above-grade connector somewhere in Edmonds after that, let’s talk about it. I am finding  this evidence convincing, but am always open to other inputs.

Help  me figure out how we move on from there. On one hand, it is a fundamental job of government to provide public safety―the infrastructure to support it is part and parcel. On the other hand, I don’t want the citizens to feel like something is being forced on  them. I know from spending months with the original solutions vetted by the task force and consultants, and considering nuanced changes to those solutions, that none inspire enthusiasm and all are much more costly. 

If  going forward with the next phase of the Edmonds Street Connector (the only way to get to the environmental impact statement that relates to it), we need to collaborate to incorporate a design concept that better fits our seaside town―less “Jetsons” and more  “boardwalk.”

(Candidate Olson's statement e-mailed to nosunsetconnector.com June 19, 2019 1:52pm---1 day after city council meeting)




City Council Position 6

Susan Paine -  Thank you for asking about the Connector as one of the City’s many issues that deserve discussion. The connector, as it is currently designed, will destroy the beach environment and ambiance at Brackett’s Landing (just north of the ferry dock). I can’t support this proposal. I think it’s going to be unreasonably expensive and with better options that should be considered. These options should include a smaller profile, something that doesn’t connect with the waterfront; a design that is supported by local emergency responders; and is ADA compliant – without needing to accommodate a full-size vehicle.

Many communities, inside and outside Edmonds, enjoy our waterfront. We all deserve an open and welcoming beach experience. The preservation and restoration of our beaches will serve our future generations.


Diana White - Chose not to provide a position response to nosunsetconnector.com to publish. 


We have supplied candidate White's statement published in the Edmonds Beacon June 18, 2019

 

“I am in favor of providing emergency access to the waterfront and a transparent public process to ensure that goal is reached.

“Emergency access is vital with the coming addition of a second train track. The waterfront area continues to grow with a new senior center, businesses, and robust recreational activities. First responders need time and equipment to do their jobs properly, and emergency vehicle access is a critical component to saving lives when every minute counts.

“To date, the process has cost $1.7 million of taxpayer dollars and over 15 months of intensive study by industry consultants and others. The public process included two City-led work groups, four open public meetings, two online surveys, and several City Council votes. In the end, 51 alternatives have been considered.

“However, it is too early in the process, and City staff needs more information to know whether the connector is feasible from an environmental and engineering standpoint. If the connector is not viable, keep reviewing the options until one is found.

“Doing nothing is not an option. If the City knowingly identifies risk and does nothing, the council leaves the Edmonds community and its visitors without equal access to emergency services and therefore jeopardizes public safety.

“It is uncertain what the future emergency access will look like, but to cancel and delay the process now will only make the project more expensive in the future. The current studies and surveys will become obsolete and taxpayers will pay twice for information that is viable now.

“The environment and beach preservation are important to Edmonds residents. So is the safety of our community. These important goals can be accomplished simultaneously.”

City Council Position 7

Laura Johnson -  “I believe that public safety is the most important role of government. My position is that we need to invest more of our infrastructure dollars in the Highway 99 corridor- and work to decrease injuries and deaths that are already documented- and look for a less costly, less invasive, more environmentally friendly option to provide emergency access to our waterfront.”  


Nathan Monroe -  Thanks for the inquiry.  I believe that something will have to be built in the next 50 years to maintain access to the waterfront in the face of increasing train traffic and to activate the waterfront.  I'd prefer to see us start the design and permitting process sooner rather than later (especially while we have funding partners available to us).  With my public works planning, engineering, and construction experience, I'm confident that we can shape this project to eliminate risks to the City.