A lot of people need to read up on the law. Railroads are regulated by the federal government ever since Lincoln. It doesn't matter what the local government says, as long as the feds are okay with it, the coal will go through. Even if the Whatcom County Council denies the land use permit for the Cherry Point terminal, the trains will go through anyways, to take the coal to a port in Canada. The trains are going, no matter what, and all we get to do is mitigate.
If traffic is really McGinn’s main concern, he could always find money to separate the grade crossings at Lander, Horton, Holgate, and Spokane Streets, and then no trains of any kind would ever block traffic on these streets.

On the other hand if McGinn’s real objection is to coal and not coal trains, then he should say so.
Basically, coal trains will choke our kids so they can have their jobs outsourced to China.

Where the coal is going.

See the point?

(caveat - just had lunch with one of my colleagues who was born just south of Beijing)
But what's his position on Soul Trains?
Why don't the trains just drop the coal off in Longview and skip the whole ride north?
But what does Goldy think about the coal trains. He always ends up being right.
@1 -- Sorry, no. If Whatcom County denies the permit, the coal will not go through to ports in Canada. Even the coal companies themselves say there's not nearly enough port capacity in Canada -- that's the whole point of trying to build new terminal here. (Further explanation here:…)

@2 -- Explain to me again why traffic congestion caused by coal shipments from Wyoming to China should be solved with Seattle tax dollars? If Peabody coal wants to block our streets for 2 hours of every day -- that's the plain math on it -- it should be up to them to fix the problem. But how likely do you think that is?
@5:The volume of coal being exported precludes the use of just one port, so several ports from Cherry Point to Coos Bay are being tapped, Since China needs the coal, and has the money, they’re most likely going to get the coal, if its not exported from Washington State, it will likely be exported from British Columbian ports, in which case Washington State, gets the coal trains, with none of the jobs or money
@2 "...he could always find money to separate the grade crossings...
Do you have ANY idea how much that sort of work costs? (In part because of all the federal regulations related to construction on or around railroads.) I suggest you do a little research before throwing out such blithe pronouncements.
@8 -- You continue to be wrong. And as the coal companies continually point out: there is actually no port capacity in Canada to handle US coal. That is, after all, why they are trying to build 5 export terminals in OR and WA.

If we say no to the coal, it stays in the ground. A few coal companies take a hit on their (already declining) profits, and 7 billion humans are better off for it.
@5, oh, they're going to either way. Longview will get its share of coal dust. Odd that the Port made a big stink about the supposed disruption from a sports arena and not about the nearly hourly east-west gridlock the trains will cause, especially when the trains are just passing through and not loading to ships at Port facilities.

I do think Jim McDermott has a good idea in forcing the rail and mine operators to pay a mitigation tax, which at least would provide some money for dealing with the mess this makes given that Federal jurisdiction means they trains will be pretty difficult to stop.
@2 and @9 -- By federal law, the railroads are required to pay just 5% of the costs of those type of separated grade crossings. In practice, they pay a much smaller share. And, yes, we'd likely be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, just in SoDo.
@11 -- I wonder who the Port's biggest customer is. Could it be... SSA Marine? The very firm that wants to ship 48 million tons of Peabody coal from the Bellingham area?

It's almost as if the Port is being hypocritical by singling out traffic congestion from arena traffic but not caring about coal train street blockage, which will be far more significant.
@7: Because the right of way belongs to BNSF, besides if the grade crossings were separated then no trains would block any traffic on those streets, this would be especially helpful at S. Hanford Street where Freight trains must stop and block the street, not to mention once the cleanup is done and Matson moves back into terminal 25, (or if Matson stays at 18 someone will move into25) this would ease truck traffic into the BNSF freight facility there (assuming enough common sense to provide a truck route under the grade crossing) This would also help mitigate the traffic caused by the proposed basketball/hockey/concert arena
@9 Yes I know what construction of infrastructure cost, but that is the cost of a society, the republicans are wrong, taxes are not bad they are the sinews of society, and a much better investment than the military, the Roman roads, aqueducts and coliseums all still stand and inspire, the Roman legions have been worm crap for over a millenium
@12, yeah, looks like Reno trenched some rail lines, on time and under budget, at a cost to the public estimated to reach $634 million before the bonds get paid off, of which the railway (Union Pacific) contributed...$17 million, mostly in property:…
@8, @11 Thanks for the explanation. I guess the only other way to get the coal to China without trains going through Seattle is a space elevator.
@18 you could just do a pipeline. You liquify the coal dust into a slurry and pump it. We used to do that half a century ago, it's not that hard.
Apt comparison, gus @16. The primary beneficiaries were the few casinos north of the rail lines who hated that potential customers walking up from the older, seedier part of downtown had to wait occasionally at gritty grade crossings before lugging their credit cards across the tracks.

It marginally benefited students at the University of Nevada-Reno, a little further north and in a large-ish food desert, who could more easily walk south to the all-you-can-eat buffets in the casinos.

Automobile traffic was never significantly impeded for locals, who knew other ways around the crossings, and mostly stayed the hell away from downtown anyway.
@18: (the real 18) perhaps we could use the tunnel that's supposed to replace the viaduct...

But whether or not coal trains pass through Washington State, the grade crossings need to be separated, since it now looks as though Obama will win a second term, and the Democrats will hold the Senate by at least one vote, the next two years may be our last best chance to try for Federal funds.
Oh and while the Port of Seattle is finally recognizing that industrial and recreational uses are not compatible, they should be reminded to change their policy and remove yachts from Fishermen’s Terminal
After McGinn's little stunt vis the arena, he has no credibility on anything; except hand jobs for Hedge Fund managers, Microsoft CEOs, and of course, Old Seattle money.

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