EDMONDS, Wash. -- No one can dispute that Edmonds Beach is beautiful.
People from beyond Edmonds come for the views, others flock here for the underwater life.
“There is a big draw, there is big fish, lots of crabs,” scuba diver Don Greenberg said.
Greenberg and others who love the tranquil site now have concerns over the city’s plans to build a concrete overpass.
“The idea is that it comes across as an extension of Edmonds Street,” Bruce Higgins said.
Higgins is a volunteer who has helped manage the underwater park for decades. He also has concerns and they are not just about the views.
When you look at the rendering, the overpass will start at Edmonds Street and Sunset Avenue. It will go over train tracks and extend all the way to a bathhouse that’s currently stationed at Brackett’s Landing.
The city has already spent around $1.7 million studying dozens of ways to get first responders to the other side of the train tracks in case of an emergency. Mayor Dave Earling says they’ve been studying the concept for 2½ years and that it’s the best option.
“The real focus for me is to provide equal safety for people on both sides of the track,” Earling said.
Earling says train issues and suicides on the tracks have cut off traffic before.
“The longest one I can recall was 4½ hours during rush hour, meaning ferries couldn’t unload and people couldn’t get back and forth,” Earling said.
In case of emergencies, the city says the overpass could also be used as a way to get ferry commuters across the tracks.
Earling also says the one-lane overpass would also work as an amenity because it would be open to foot traffic and bicyclists.
But in the last month, the opposition has been growing louder.
Edmonds resident Cam Tripp has launched a social media campaign against the project.
“I appreciate the leaders here, I respect them. I disagree with a whole bunch of them right now,” Tripp said.
Tripp launched a Change.org petition hoping to pressure city leaders to find another way to address public safety. As of Friday he had more than 6,000 signatures.
Not only would the overpass obstruct Puget Sound views from homes, but Tripp says it would affect the people who come for recreation.
“This is a special, magical place. You put concrete over it, you can’t go back. It’s an eyesore,” Tripp said.
Tripp says he prefers an option the city has studied before, building a less expensive pedestrian style bridge close to the ferries.
“You could convert that pedestrian overpass to a little bit wider like Richmond Beach has to allow for an ATV style emergency response to get over there,” Tripp said.
The city says that plan is not wide enough for large ladder trucks in case of fires.
But outside of that argument, Tripp and others say they are also worried about the environmental impacts.
“Part of the beach is considered conservation and now they are turning it into transportation,” Higgins said.
The city clarifies that the overpass will not be going over a conservation site but it will be next to it.
They say environmental issues are always important, that’s why they plan on doing an environmental impact study very soon.
They also emphasized that the local fire department is endorsing the idea of the overpass.
The project is estimated to cost around $27 million. The city says they have secured a lot of that money, including about $8 million to pursue the design of the infrastructure.
There will be a council meeting on the issue Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
Opponents say they don’t have a problem with improving public safety, but they disagree with the implementation. They plan on rallying against the project on Tuesday.