New CWB Study: GPT Trains to Create “Potentially Severe Consequences” for Emergency Response Times, Local Freight and Traffic in Bellingham.
Communitywise Bellingham Press Release, June 28, 2012
Contact: Shannon Wright, (360) 510-4766
New Study: Gateway Pacific Terminal Trains to Create “Potentially Severe Consequences” for Emergency Response Times, Freight for Local Businesses and Traffic Back-ups in Bellingham.
New Rail Siding For GPT Trains To Exacerbate Problems With Longer Delays.
Bellingham, WA—A new report by Gibson Traffic Consultants released today analyzed “possible rail impacts associated with transport of commodities to the proposed GPT coal port affecting the City of Bellingham and its access roads.”
The report concluded that “preliminary analysis suggests potentially severe consequences for the City’s transportation plan and planned waterfront redevelopment, with increases in risk of accidents, impacts to the City’s levels of service, ability to provide effective emergency response times, and possible interference with local freight delivery systems important to the City’s economic recovery.”
Emergency response time is one of the critical impacts of increased train traffic the report examines. “Adding 16-18 additional trains per day to service Cherry Point could tip the balance at a critical time when emergency responses are needed,” the report states. “There is a probable issue concerning emergency services response times, particularly to the ferry terminal/ship yard area that has no grade-separated crossing.”
The report also projected possible impacts with the new rail siding needed in Bellingham to accommodate GPT’s train traffic. It notes that “surveys of existing siding/closing location south of Bellingham shows that such combined crossing/siding location can have 10-12 minute closure times in a 15-minute interval.” These extended delays could worsen all reported concerns such as emergency response times.
GPT train traffic could also affect local businesses. The report indicates, “A key question may be whether this interstate traffic from the coal trains will have the impact of reducing the availability of local rail spur business necessary to serve Bellingham businesses.”
The report’s findings are important as Scoping for GPT’s environmental review is expected to begin this summer. The author “intended to illustrate some of the potential significant problems and areas deserving detailed study during the SEPA and NEPA review for the facility.”
Communitywise Bellingham commissioned the Gibson Traffic Consultant report and delivered it to the City of Bellingham. The full report is available at: www.CommunitywiseBellingham.org.
“It seems the new rail siding in Bellingham needed for GPT could make what looked like a bad situation worse,” said Jack Delay, board president of Communitywise Bellingham. “This situation begs for comprehensive study. For CWB, it shows the wisdom of the Mayor and City Council in asking the County to include the siding in the permit application.” The letter from the City to Whatcom County can be viewed here.