Safeguard the SouthforkPermalink +
Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am // Guest writer
Jeff Margolis provides this guest piece. He has been Co-Owner of Everybody's Store in VanZandt for over 40 years, and has been deeply involved in the community and politics of the Nooksack River South Fork Valley. This first appeared in the Cascadia Weekly, and appears here with permission of Jeff.
A recent OpEd in the Bellingham Herald tosses off the notion that GPT’s Coal Trains, should they arrive, would spoil the fun at Boulevard Park. It ever so briefly mentioned there could be “inland” impacts outside Bellingham, on the South Fork Valley. As a business person from that seldom seen orphan child of Whatcom County’s political life let me suggest, “plan way ahead, build urban landscape above the tracks, create real estate and keep the train if you must, in Bellingham”. If roof top turf is good enough for New York and Denver, then surprise us with a coalition of Bellingham developers and futurists rejecting a curse upon the county’s farm land. Politics can make for strange bedfellows, but in this case, it makes sense.
Those of us who live “inland”, having helped bring comprehension to the legislature’s infamous “Commerce Corridor” initiative a decade ago, immediately recognized the coal port’s transportation impacts. Our mantra continues to be Safeguard the Southfork. The state’s consultant drew the conclusion that putting endangered species at risk and simultaneously engendering insurmountable debt made the Commerce Corridor infeasible.
This potential corridor has come to be known as the Farmland Route, because it cuts through some of the most productive farm valleys and agricultural communities of Whatcom County. A rail expansion project might conceivably connect the existing eastern route to Cherry Point through and east/west rail proposal from Lynden to Custer. While BNSF says it’s not planning to use the Farmland Route, nothing exists to prevent the route from being used or developed as a coal transportation corridor ir it is not adequately included as part of the Environmental Impact Study.
By now everyone realizes how interruptive a unit coal train is. Traffic safety managers recognize nine strategic rail and highway intersections that would have to be spanned. Highway reconstruction would decimate Acme, Van Zandt, Deming and Nooksack. At least four lanes, nine overpasses and numerous connecting intersections inevitably point to a transformative era for all of us. Back this scenario up through Sedro Woolley, and Burlington where a route to avoid Boulevard Park begins. The irony of course is that the surrender of a myriad of precious sites from Wyoming to Cherry Point, are in the offing. Bellingham needs to look beyond it’s own bailiwick.
In the end the real issue beyond the “Coal Train” is the “Coal Port”. China’s recently pronounced intent to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2015 does not bode well for GPT. However if public and private motivation remains narrow minded rather than worldly, be assured that railroad resources to the east and north will still be engaged. Imagine your new Whatcom at Canada’s border; a progression of sprouting rail spurs, warehouses, greasy spoons, broken glass in the gutter. It won’t be but a few generations and our region’s bucolic brand will be nothing but a chimera. So remember, when you Safeguard the Southfork you preserve and protect all of Whatcom County.
Fri, May 31, 2013, 12:01 am // Guest writerJeffrey Margolis urges us to request the Nooksack South Fork Valley be included in the Coal Port environmental study.
3 comments; last on Jun 02, 2013
Sun, May 05, 2013, 3:45 pm // John ServaisHelp fund a scientific study looking for links between diesel locomotives, coal trains and unhealthy air.
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 12:12 pm // John ServaisA dramatic video of yet another mudslide near Everett - and what will be coming down on coal trains. Amtrak service to Bellingham is shut down.
4 comments; last on Dec 20, 2012
Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 2:43 pm // John ServaisA giant coal freighter went right through the long dock early Friday morning. Nothing in print edition of Herald
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2012
Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 9:53 am // John ServaisBellingham Business Journal breaking story - Lummi's to hold meeting today at noon to speak against the Cherry Point project.
7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 9:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 9:30 pm // Larry HorowitzQuestions raised by the Superior Court's barring of the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights initiative from being placed on the ballot.
21 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 1:54 am // Tip JohnsonWherein we see the Railroad walking it's walk while we get ready to talk our talk.
1 comments; last on Jul 16, 2012
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 1:06 am // Wendy HarrisPlanning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012
Sun, Dec 04, 2011, 6:53 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the sooty prospect of economic necessity rears its ugly head
2 comments; last on Dec 05, 2011
Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 3:08 pm // Wendy HarrisPlanning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:29 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's new mitigation proposal is unlikely to be adequate for Cherry Point's industrial impacts to habitat buffers
3 comments; last on Nov 24, 2011
Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 10:24 pm // Paul deArmondLooking at the numbers for the Bellingham elections
11 comments; last on Nov 22, 2011
Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 4:07 pm // Guest writerBob Ferris of Re-Sources takes a values based perspective on our community and a possible coal port.
9 comments; last on Nov 02, 2011
Thu, Sep 08, 2011, 10:37 am // Riley SweeneyLook at the title, it spells it out.
6 comments; last on Sep 12, 2011
Thu, Sep 01, 2011, 3:46 pm // John ServaisGeorge Black is comprehensive on the Powder River coal basin, BNSF, and the shipping of coal from Cherry Point and Longview.
6 comments; last on Sep 07, 2011
Fri, Jul 29, 2011, 11:11 am // John ServaisThe Gateway Pacific coal port appears to be under construction now - secretly and w/o permits.
36 comments; last on Aug 05, 2011
Mon, Jun 20, 2011, 11:42 am // Tip JohnsonWherein something smells a bit fishy
2 comments; last on Jul 29, 2011
Wed, Jun 08, 2011, 2:09 pm // John ServaisWho all is on the take? Who all has not been up front about being on the take for the Coal Port?
4 comments; last on Jun 12, 2011
Fri, Jun 03, 2011, 12:56 pm // John ServaisA running update of links and info on the Coal Port and Trains of proposed Gateway Pacific at Cherry Point.
15 comments; last on Jun 29, 2011
Thu, Jun 02, 2011, 7:45 pm // John ServaisThe public meeting to hear opinions about the coal port last night saw local union leader Dave Warren playing games.
3 comments; last on Jun 05, 2011
Wed, Jun 01, 2011, 5:32 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mark Flanders' call to action for June 1 flash mob at coal port meeting
7 comments; last on Jun 09, 2011
Mon, May 30, 2011, 11:40 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein blackened hearts and minds are initially examined
6 comments; last on Jun 02, 2011
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 5:00 am // John ServaisCoal trains will probably pass Lynden on their way from Sumas to Cherry Point, after coming across on the Canadian rail roads.
16 comments; last on Aug 14, 2011
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