Mukilteo considers bridge for better waterfront access

MUKILTEO — Better access for pedestrians to the Mukilteo waterfront — including for reaching passenger trains and ferries — could be in the works.

The city is studying building a footbridge over the railroad tracks, from the Old Town area to the waterfront.

The bridge could be built in the summer of 2014 if Mukilteo is able to raise the money, according to a city timeline.

The bridge could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million, depending on location and design, said Patricia Love, assistant planning director for the city.

“We have a couple of grants that we’re waiting to hear on,” she said. “That will be the deciding factor as to when we move forward.”

The city is paying $35,000 to ABKJ Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers of Seattle to study three possible crossing locations.

One is next to the current auto bridge on Highway 525; one is at Park Avenue, at the far western end of the parking area for Sounder commuter rail; the third would connect to Loveland Avenue and is the closest of the three options to the train platform.

The footbridge idea has been on the city’s books for years as part of the long-planned move of the ferry dock to the former Air Force tank farm. The state now expects to begin building the new $130 million ferry terminal in 2015 and to finish in 2019.

The Air Force is on schedule to complete its long-planned transfer of the property to the Port of Everett early in 2013, Mayor Joe Marine said. The port is then expected to make the property available for the ferry terminal and other uses.

As soon as the land transfer is complete, the city can explore adding parking for Sounder, Marine said. The current parking area holds only 63 cars. Lack of parking in Mukilteo and Edmonds has been cited as one reason for low ridership on the commuter rail service. In Edmonds, Sound Transit has reached an agreement with a private property owner to provide more parking there.

In Mukilteo, a pedestrian bridge would provide one more way for passengers to reach the trains.

Chris Luscher of Mukilteo takes the Sounder train and likes the bridge idea.

“It would be great because you could access it without hitting ferry traffic,” he said.

Of the three bridge options, Marine said the one closest to Highway 525 might have the edge. While it’s the farthest from the Sounder platform, it also would likely to be easier to build, he said.

A bridge at Loveland Avenue, the alignment closest to the station, would have to arch high over the tracks to provide enough clearance for trains, Marine said. This could create construction complications and block some views from the nearby residential neighborhood, he said.

While pedestrian access is already provided on the Highway 525 bridge, the walkways are narrow, Love said.

Also, it’s next to the Old Town business district where more parking is available.

“We want to keep an open mind about all the options,” she said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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