$675K to study train, boat, car bottleneck at Edmonds

EDMONDS — A solution to the traffic bottleneck caused by the intersection of a state highway, a railroad crossing and the boarding lanes for the Edmonds-Kingston ferry has moved one step closer.

A total of $675,000 from the state and three other organizations has now been raised for a study of proposed suggestions to solve the problem.

The latest contribution came from BNSF Railway, which wrote a check for $50,000 for the project. The state kicked in $500,000, the city $100,000 and $25,000 came from the Port of Edmonds.

In a statement, Andrew Johnsen, BNSF assistant vice president for community affairs, said that the railroad “is dedicated to being a good neighbor in the communities where we operate and we’re pleased to help support Edmonds with this study.”

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas declined additional comment.

“I think there’s an acknowledgement that there’s an issue that needs to be solved,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. The city estimates up to 40 trains pass through each day, blocking access to the waterfront for about 90 minutes. “Admittedly they aren’t all freight trains,” Earling said. “There’s Sounder and Amtrak.”

In addition, each year some 3.8 million people either drive or walk on to the ferry. They have to cross the tracks to do so.

The $675,000 will be used for a study of what might be done to solve the traffic jams. An overpass or underpasses would allow traffic to bypass the train tracks. A trench from the city’s off-leash dog park to near Caspers Street has been suggested to allow trains to pass through the city underground.

It could take about three months to select which firm will conduct the analysis, said Phil Williams, the city’s public works director. And it could be another 14 to 18 months to study the alternatives and come to an agreement on what the right approach may be, he said.

“It’s a balance between solving the problem and how much does it cost,” Earling said. Last year, a Seattle consulting firm estimated that construction of the train trench through the city could cost $250 million to $290 million.

Once an alternative is picked, the city will need an additional $400,000 to $600,00 for design plans, Earling said.

Sharon Salyer: salyer@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3486.

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