On Wednesday’s “Don’t Block Our Beach” rally, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling made it clear he was not on hand to protest the proposed shipping terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, which would dramatically increase the number of trains transporting coal through Puget Sound.
"If you're here for a rally centered on the coal trains, you're at the wrong rally,” he told more than 200 people gathered on the grassy area at Brackett’s Landing South.
Instead, Earling said the rally—backed by the City of Edmonds, Chamber of Commerce, South County Senior Center, Port of Edmonds, Sustainable Edmonds and Snohomish County Fire District 1—was created to draw attention to safety issues associated with increased train traffic and a plan to construct an underpass for ferry and emergency vehicle traffic.
Indeed, Earling made it clear that Edmonds is looking to attain unfettered access to the waterfront. "Rail traffic is projected to increase to up to 100 trains per day by 2030. Some of these trains will be more than a mile long. This situation would impose unacceptable limits on waterfront access and be catastrophic for our town."
as being against SSA Marine’s efforts to export bulk commodities of coal. Last year, the , as well.
The mayor pointed to several businesses and areas west of the railroad tracks that would be significantly affected by long waits for trains to pass: the Edmonds Underwater Park (“We lose a diver every year or two”); the Edmonds Ferry terminal; the South County Senior Center; and the Port of Edmonds and marina.
An underpass constructed to address the public safety issue is one that Earling says he has discussed with legislators in Districts 21 and 32, Sen. Maria Cantwell (who lives in Edmonds), Sen. Patty Murray, Paula Hammond of the Washington State Ferries, the chairs of both the House and Senate transportation committees, and others.
“They all get it,” Earling told the crowd. “They understand the conflict we have here. If you don’t know, the ferry here, the port here (are located at) the only at-grade crossing where we conflict between the ferries and rails. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in ferry system.”
The idea of an underpass, which would be used for ferry and emergency vehicle traffic (police, fire, ambulance), is not a new one in Edmonds. Marko Liias, a state representative and Edmonds native, told the crowd that he discussed the idea with former Mayor Gary Haakenson four years ago.
Earling said his proposal is somewhat similar to one undertaken in Bremerton a few years ago under Public Works director Phil Williams. Williams is now Public Works director for Edmonds.
Earling, who is working with David Evans and Associates on the underpass plan, estimated the cost at between $60 and $80 million.