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City of Seattle

December 12, 1:07 PM click here to comment > 20

Mayor to commission study on local economic impacts of proposed coal train operations in Seattle

Mayor McGinn today announced that the City of Seattle will soon commission a study on the local economic impacts resulting from 18 coal trains passing through Seattle each day. McGinn has previously detailed some of the local traffic and safety impacts that would result from the coal train proposal.

“Seattle’s economy is growing at a faster pace than the rest of the region, state and country,” said McGinn. “As the entire city works together to recover from the longest, deepest recession since the Great Depression, we need to do our due diligence to analyze the negative impacts to our local economy should this coal train proposal become a reality. We have done an initial review of local traffic and safety impacts of this proposal. Now we need to work to make sure that we are protecting our local economy. The impacts from these coal trains will be felt at the local level. That is why we need a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement to help inform policy makers on this proposal.”

“As a waterfront business owner, I’m concerned about additional traffic delays caused by coal trains.  My customers need easy access between the waterfront and other downtown attractions such as Pike Place Market, the Olympic Sculpture Garden and Seattle Center.  Additional delays at Broad Street could mean serious impacts to my business,” said Kyle Griffith, owner and operator of the Seattle Great Wheel on the Waterfront.

The city of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development is seeking an evaluation of the potential economic impacts of the proposed coal train operations in the City of Seattle, with particular focus on Seattle’s north waterfront and Duwamish Manufacturing and Industrial Center.  Findings from this initial economic impact analysis will inform city of Seattle policymakers, interested stakeholders, and the general public of the potential range and magnitude of local economic impacts from the proposed coal terminal and associated train operations. The impact analysis will include:

  • Impacts on operations and employment for the Port of Seattle
  • Impacts on operations, employment and sales for businesses along the proposed coal train route, including the Duwamish industrial and north waterfront districts
  • Evaluation of the displacement of higher value goods being shipped by rail
  • Determination of additional infrastructure improvements or policy measures that would be required to support coal train operations and/or mitigate coal train impacts

This analysis will incorporate any existing related transportation and economic analyses for a complete understanding of the coal trains’ economic impact, including any regional and statewide economic impact studies.

The evaluation is currently scheduled to be completed by March 30, 2013.

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Pingback from Coal Exports Public Hearing is Tomorrow 12/13! « SciencePolitics
Time December 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

[…] City Mayor announced today that the City of Seattle will commission “a study on the local economic impacts […]

Comment from Gene
Time December 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

The coal train issue is a disaster for those of us in West Seattle who use the SODO district for many things. The State of Coal companies should provide multiple raised crossover point for traffic trying to get between Marginal Way, 1st Ave. and 4th Ave. During the time the 1st Ave on-ramp was closed I spent at least an hour a month waiting to make one of the crossing. Eighteen very long trains will be a nightmare.
The Port is complaining about the basketball arena, this has a tenfold+ impact on them and us.

Is there no other rail route that does not go right thru the middle of the City?

Comment from Michal
Time December 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Why is Seattle focusing on coal train traffic? What if general cargo trains increased to 18 per day – would that be any different? Or is this really an attempt to influence carbon emissions by blocking coal exports? If this is really about train traffic, let’s debate how train operators can cover the cost of traffic delays and/or the cost of construction of overpasses to mitigate traffic delays. Here is one idea: auction time on the train tracks to the highest bidders and limit train traffic to what it is today (or to whatever is determined to be acceptable). This way you still keep control over traffic, but you are not singling out the coal train operators either.

I am concerned about global warming and traffic as much as anyone else, but I hate it even more when people use underhanded tactics to get their way.

Comment from island_truth
Time December 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm

The proposed coal export terminal is indeed a nightmare scenario for those of us who live in West Seattle in addition to being a disaster for the port and freight mobility. The coal trains are a mile and a half long – and let’s not forget that the trains would go through Seattle twice: once full, and again empty on the return. So it’s really 36 dirty, uncovered, mile and a half long coal trains a day. No thank you. But thanks to the City for studying the impacts – I’m sure the report will find many.

Comment from Christopher
Time December 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm

The city and port were happy with the new RR tracks for the SW harbor project with trains up to 9,200 feet in length.

They are happy with sporting events with their long standing queues.

They don’t mind a visiting president who stops ALL traffic on I-5 and the serving street network.

So how can a few coals trains per day be any more significant.

They don’t impact the light rail line, I note.

Get real. We need anything to help us balance our trade deficit.

Comment from Diane
Time December 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm

No coal through Seattle PLEASE! The pacific Northwest is home to many of us because we enjoy the outdoors and some level of health do to that. Fossil fuels are a nasty business and any financial gains are not worth the threat the out health, environment and quality of life.

Comment from james
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I truly find this to be inexplicable as a top priority issue to be discussing, when Seattle has a fundamental tax revenue problem to support basic infrastructure development in city on the decline. Where is the leadership to raise the capital necessary to maintain roads, bridges and schools in the city, not to mention the crime rate and poorly managed police force. We have a mayor who reacts and objects, but has no leadership ability…or sense of prioritization.

Pingback from The Reader – Economic impacts of coal trains in Seattle | Seattle, WA 98122
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

[…] impacts of coal trains in Seattle Today Mayor McGinn announced that the City of Seattle will commission a study on the local economic impacts resulting from 18 […]

Comment from Vanessa
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Amen, island_truth! Filthy dirty coal dust all along the way. Why in the heck would Seattle spend money on impacts when all you have to do is go visit the other cities where these lines already travel thru? Just go visit the people in Canada near Twassan and see the black soot they live and breath in. The chemicals are toxic that float in the air. Do you think they could even talk about COVERING THEIR LOADS? But we don’t want it either way. Theyre also barging it in super cargo carriers along the Columbia River. Selling all this cheap coal to CHINA!

Comment from Charles
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Economic impacts must include the public health impacts of coal dust that will escape from the open coal cars, and also the air pollution that will result from particulates, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds and other pollutants that will be released China when the coal will be burned, and then will drift over here in the atmosphere.

Pingback from The impacts of increased coal train traffic in Seattle |
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

[…] impacts of coal trains in Seattle Today Mayor McGinn announced that the City of Seattle will commission a study on the local economic impacts resulting from 18 […]

Comment from DOF
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm

The terminal will need to unload 9 trains per day at full capacity.
Full trains must come through Seattle due to the steep grade on Stevens Pass. Empty trains will be able to return over Stevens Pass, avoiding Seattle, The mayor has already incorrectly stated 18 trains will go through the city and I see that has been doubled to 36 by another commenter. The city de-funded or modified two major projects in the past, which would have addressed grade separations in SoDo and the Broad street issue could be addressed relatively in expensively with a pedestrian overpass. I believe that it is the Mayors goal to eliminate vehicles on the waterfront anyhow.
It would be useful for politicians to stick to the facts and to stop using scare tactics.

Comment from DOF
Time December 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I appears that the traffic and impact study in the link above was completed by the same company(Parametrix) who did the city’s arena study.
Keep in mind that in the arena study, Parametrix counted Friday as a weekend day to influence their graphs and charts to achieve their preferred result.

Comment from Karen Husted
Time December 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Sounds like the Mayor is getting ready to screw the people and reward these polluters.

Comment from Mike
Time December 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I’m for either blocking the coal trains or imposing a heavy, heavy tax. Bold action is needed now to try to slow down global warming. Another way to have immediate impact is to go to the nonprofit and make a $25 microloan to families in Mongolia who are trying to replace their coal burning stoves. Check it out by selecting “green” loans. They are loans so you get your money back if you want.

Comment from Todd
Time December 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I imagine that the city doesn’t see its purview as looking beyond what impact these trains will have on the four criteria. That’s a shame. Global Climate Change should be the purview of EVERY government official. That alone would be enough to deny the shipments from coming through our city.

Comment from Bill
Time December 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Railroad property and operations are governed by federal law, for good reason. It would be impossible to run a railroad if every town large and small for thousands of miles established their own rules. So you’re dreaming if you believe the City can somehow “meter” traffic, or force the railroad to pay for overpasses, or even demand an environmental impact statement for additional trains. None of that’s going to happen. An EIS must be done for the new terminal, of course, and that’s appropriate.

island_truth, it’s 18 total trains. 9 loaded trains up, 9 empties back, although this is a “worst-case” number I doubt will be seen simply due to capacity constraints on the railroad, especially as the economy picks up.

Comment from Mushalik
Time January 16, 2013 at 3:18 am

Why study only local impacts? Every coal train will generate future compensation claims for global warming damages. Read what NASA climatologist James Hansen – Columbia University had to tell the Iowa Utility Board:

Comment from Stephanie Angelis
Time February 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thank you for examining economic impacts, there seems to be no benefit to Seattle from these trains. The coal trains need to be addressed separately from other goods because the trains are uncovered and leave hazardous coal along the rail route. Hope that all the externalities and health costs are considered- even if they are more difficult to attribute a cost.

Comment from James A. Singmaster, Ph.D.
Time April 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I am an environmental chemist, Ph.D. UCDavis, 75, Ret. and point out that all fossil fuel and nuclear energy problems can be gone if we MAKE THE SUN OUR SOLE ENERGY SOURCE. This can be done as I have many blog comments outlining how to this that can be read by google searching my name.
In addition the biowaste messes including sewage solids can be made into a the KEY resource for sustainability to give some fuel while eliminating 5% of Seattle’s budget spent mishandling biowastes that have escapes of germs toxics, and drugs. To illustrate this point, EPA set limits in 2010 on several female hormone drugs showing up in some drinking water suuplies. WHAT DOES EPA DO IF SOME CITY HAS WATER EXCEEDING THE LIMIT??? CLOSE DOWN THE ITS WATER SYSTEM?????????