Were you looking for some rambling thoughts on the PSRC’s Evaluation of Regional Impacts for the Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point? No? Well, you’re here, so you might as well continue.
First we should have a discussion of the study itself:
What this could mean is that the negative impacts of the coal traffic on the region’s commerce could outweigh any benefit from jobs at the terminal itself.
Earlier predictions had already increased expected wait times by 30 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes in the region, without the coal, by 2035.
If the terminal is built, rail gates could be closed from 38 minutes to 85 minutes longer than previously predicted on the BNSF Railway line that runs along the I-5 corridors by 2035, this most recent study said.
The study identified 101 rail crossings in the Puget Sound area, 77 of them in cities and towns.
That adds up to quite a lot of time. The study talks about mitigating impacts, but notes that they are expensive. I’d hope first and foremost that BNSF pay for mitigation.. If that doesn’t happen, I would hope it would be done either by the state or by the areas that are most benefiting from the terminal jobs.
The main impacts the study mentions are the traffic and potential land value decreases near the rail. The Environmental Impact Statement should deal with dust and noise more than this study, but I would like to highlight this from the summary:
Environmental Justice Considerations. The potential for impacts to be disproportionately felt by populations that are minority or low income was a criteria used to select at-grade crossings for analysis in the study. An examination of these populations by census tract showed that low income and minority populations in Kent and Seattle would have the highest disproportionate impacts from train operations. Low income and minority populations in Everett, Auburn, Algona, Pacific and Fife could also be impacted by additional trains travelling [sic] to and from the proposed terminal.
Finally, for those interested after the derailment yesterday, the study talks about oil trains, a bit but it isn’t the focus. We won’t have that until October. And obviously, this study won’t deal with that derailment specifically.