Impacts to Study
The public comment period or “Scoping” on GPT’s environmental impact study is now open!
It is critical that the widest scope of potential project impacts is comprehensively studied and publicly debated.
Our communities deserve to be fully informed and actively participate in reviewing the project.
Below is an initial list of specific concerns CWB believes need to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Study.
The Local Economy
- Economic impact on downtown development. (See our commissioned report covering economic risks.)
- Economic impact from the new train idling area or “active siding” in Bellingham. (See our report covering the siding and waterfront impacts including a detailed map.)
- Economic impact on redevelopment of waterfront, particularly at former Georgia Pacific Mill site.
- Impact on Amtrak service.
- Congestion at major crossings and impact on commerce.
- Impact on residential and commercial property values.
- Coal dust impacts on Herring fishery that could affect local fishing fleet.
- Mechanical concerns for business from fugitive coal dust along rails and at other Cherry Point industrial sites.
- Increased tanker traffic’s impact on local marine life and resources, including risk of spills and on-going vessel pollution.
- Fugitive coal dust’s impact on the local environment near the rail corridor and at the port.
- Risk to herring and other marine life at the port site from piers and tanker presence.
- Impact to local wetlands.
- Degradation of local marine water quality from coal dust in storm run-off.
- Mercury contamination from transport and handling.
Health and Safety
- Health risk from increased air pollution from diesel combustion, idling and acceleration from sidings for heavy weight coal trains. Risks in Bellingham may be elevated due to the new train idling area or “active siding.” (See our report on the siding and map.)
- Safety impacts for pedestrians at parks and shorelines.
- Impact on emergency vehicle access and response times to parks, public facilities and businesses isolated by tracks, especially at shipyards with potential for severe industrial accidents. (See our commissioned report on traffic and emergency response delays in Bellingham.)
- Health risk from fugitive coal dust along the rail corridor.
Quality of Life
- Loss of vehicle access to Boulevard Park from the new train idling area or “siding.” (See our report on the siding and map.)
- Noise and vibration impact for residents, including sleep disruption from increase in heavy trains that are loader than other trains.
- Impact on proposed new Cornwall waterfront park.
- Impact on pedestrian and vehicular waterfront access to other waterfront areas.
- Nuisance from fugitive coal dust.
Noise and Vibration
- Current and expected increase in whistling and at-grade crossing noise levels, particularly at night.
- Wheel screeching noise levels and impacts of high axle load coal transport.
- Vibration and high axle load effects on unstable banks in Eldridge, Chuckanut, Edgemoor and South Fairhaven neighborhoods.
- Vibration and high axle load effects on adjacent properties from Little Squalicum, north.
- Vibration and high axle load effects on roadbeds throughout Bellingham.
- Vibration and high axle load effects on grade crossings throughout Bellingham.
Level of New Train Traffic
- How many additional trains will transit Bellingham to serve the port, and what factors those affect numbers.
- What is the current level of train traffic, broken down by coal trains and other freight traffic, and what factors affect those numbers.
Feasibility and Cost of Mitigation
- Risk that Bellingham and Whatcom County taxpayers will foot the bill for expensive waterfront and train mitigation infrastructure such as bridges and overpasses. (See our report covering this situation.)
- Controlling fugitive coal dust through covering train cars.
- Limiting diesel exhaust through prohibiting use of older, dirtier locomotives.
- Establishing a Bellingham quiet zone for the entire span of its city limits for railroad horns.
- Ensuring full vehicular and pedestrian access to all current and planned waterfront parks and development areas.