Railroad crossing options include Main Street overpass


Last updated 5/12/2016 at Noon

A task force has narrowed the alternatives for the railroad crossings at Dayton and Main streets to include options for an overpass, an underpass or a new ferry terminal at Dayton Street.

The Mayor’s Advisory Task Force for the rail crossings alternatives analysis will present a project progress report from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, during a public open house at the Edmonds Library.

Attendees will be able to view concept displays and talk with the project team. A 30-minute formal presentation will begin at 6:15 p.m.

“We have received valuable public input during the first stages of this process,” Edmonds City councilmember and Task Force co-chair Mike Nelson said, “and we continue to look forward to engaging members of the community to provide additional input in the next steps in this important study intended, ultimately, to identify final, preferred alternatives to improve critical access to the Edmonds waterfront.”

The study aims to determine the best feasible alternatives to at-grade railroad crossings at Dayton and Main Streets, which are currently blocked by 35-40 trains each day along the city’s waterfront and could eventually be blocked by up to 100 trains a day by 2030.

In its first round of analysis, Nelson said the task force “rolled up their sleeves and worked hard” to narrow 48 options down to 13, which include variations of overpasses, underpasses, ferry terminal modifications and on-site improvements.

Early in the process, Burlington Northern Santa Fe said it would not support any project that included modifications to the tracks. Alternatives that included modifications to the tracks were deemed to have a “fatal flaw” and were eliminated.

Port of Edmonds Executive Director Bob McChesney said the Port is supportive of the process, and is happy to be a part of the task force.

“It’s too soon to comment on any of the alternatives,” McChesney said, “except to say the Port obviously would support the selected options that won’t impact Port properties or operations.”

Overpass alternatives

There are five overpass options advancing to the next round of analysis, which include options for pedestrian, bicycle and emergency vehicles only to access for all vehicles.

One option proposes an overpass for queuing and unloading ferry traffic at Main Street. According to the project’s website, the concept “builds a grade-separated overcrossing over the railroad tracks at Main Street by ramping the vehicle queuing and loading/unloading lanes to an elevated roadway over Main Street that passes over the railroad tracks and then ramps down to the ferry trestle.”

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Other traffic would continue along Main Street beneath the overpass, and emergency vehicles would access Railroad Avenue by using the ramps exit lanes.

Another option proposes an overpass connecting Dayton Street to Admiral Way, south of Dayton, for emergency vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles, with potential use by all vehicles. The proposed alignment would minimize impacts to the existing buildings in the area and Jacobsen’s Marine.

A proposed overpass to extend Edmonds Street to Brackett’s Landing North for emergency vehicle access, pedestrians and bicycles is another option. It could be used to off-load vehicles on the ferry during extended closures of the tracks.

An enclosed pedestrian and bicycle overpass near the Edmonds Senior Center also has been proposed. Another proposed pedestrian and bicycle overpass would connect the area near Brackett’s Landing South to the transit center on the east side of the tracks. Each would feature an elevator/ramp and stairs on each side.

Underpass alternatives

Two underpass solutions have been proposed. One includes an underpass at Main Street for small service vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists only, while the other would include all traffic going to and from the ferry dock.

The second concept includes cut-and-cover construction with a “lid” to support a new surface street at Main Street, with ferry traffic below. The current ferry holding lanes to the east would “ramp down,” and the lanes on the west would “ramp up” to meet the trestle.

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Emergency vehicles would have access to Railroad Avenue through the ferry exiting lanes.

New ferry terminal

Ferry terminal modifications include construction of a new ferry terminal at Dayton Street.

Washington State Ferries developed the concept terminal in 2009. It would include a three-story parking garage and vehicle queuing garage within the Harbor Square property and be accessed from SR 104.

Going into the next round of evaluations, Nelson said the task force will be “asking tougher questions that need to be addressed.

“For example, how much will the concept cost and how will it be funded? Will it improve emergency response to the waterfront in a reliable way? Will it fit the designs concepts of our city, such as maintain our views and small-town character? Is it the safest and most efficient way for pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles to cross the railroad tracks or connect with a ferry or train?”

An online open house with detailed descriptions of each alternative and the process is available from now through May 23 and can be found at http://www.EdmondsWaterfrontAccess.org.

Task Force members include citizens, city staff, and representatives from Washington State Department of Transportation – Ferries Division, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Port of Edmonds and BNSF. It anticipates having one or more preferred alternatives to recommend to the mayor and the council by September.

Task Force meetings are held at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at Edmonds City Hall, Brackett Conference Room, 121 5th Ave. N.


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