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Rail station renovation could help Edmonds downtown bottleneck

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Getting to and from the Edmonds, Wash., waterfront-long a bottleneck for travelers and pedestrians alike-could get somewhat easier by early next year, the Everett Daily Herald reports. That's when Sound Transit expects to complete a $12.9-million renovation of the city's rail station, Edmonds Station, at 210 Railroad Ave.

It’s also when the agency
will complete a new bus shelter that is expected to allow Community Transit
buses to pick up and drop off passengers at a single location between the ferry
terminal and station. Right now, people get on and off the bus at two stops
that are a block apart.

Construction on the two
projects is expected to begin in March.

Sound Transit, which
provides Sounder commuter trains, shares the station with Amtrak.

Planned upgrades should
help centralize and smooth connections between bus, train and ferry connections
in the heart of the city, officials say. Those improvements, which will include
new lighting, four new shelters and 520 feet of additional platform, are
welcome news to most city officials, who’ve been anxiously awaiting a
spruced-up train station.

It’s not the ideal
solution city leaders envisioned with Edmonds Crossing, however. That proposed
$263-million regional project would have combined ferry, bus and train traffic
in a single location farther south along the waterfront of the existing ferry
terminal.

City leaders essentially
opted to shelve the project last year after Washington State Ferries, the lead
agency on the project, decided to focus its limited dollars on maintaining existing
facilities.

Sound Transit also plans
to build the bus shelter, adjacent to railroad tracks between James and Main
streets, half a block north of the train station.

Eric Beckman, a Sound
Transit rail program manager, said his agency would build one new platform at
the station. A second platform, west toward Railroad Avenue, will be added
after BNSF builds a second set of tracks, he said.

Many of the traffic
bottlenecks near the waterfront happen because passenger and freight trains
share a single set of tracks, said Stephen Clifton, the city’s community
development director. New tracks would open up the flow of trains through the
city. Double-track rail exists along selected portions of the rail line between
Everett and Seattle – though not in Edmonds.

"It’s like two lanes of
highway versus one lane," said Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman.

The freight train company
has completed design work and will begin grading work along a 1.9-mile stretch
of rail line. The grading work lays the foundation for the new tracks.

"We expect to begin this
project, possibly as early as the beginning of February," he said.

Construction of the new
tracks will likely happen in 2011 or 2012, Melonas said.

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