Study: Coal Trains Would Hit Property Values Hard

By Erica C. Barnett November 8, 2012

A new study commissioned by Seattle-based Climate Solutions concluded that a proposal to run as many as 18 1.6-mile-long coal trains a day through Seattle to a new coal terminal in Bellingham could cost property owners along the route as much as $265 million in lost property values. 

The report also concludes that the trains would likely "cause isolation and business interruption effects for properties in the immediate" vicinity of the train tracks; cause accidents and make it harder for ambulances and fire trucks to reach their destinations; and cause disruptive vibration and noise.

At a press conference on the waterfront yesterday afternoon, as BNSF trains rumbled by, state legislators Reuven Carlyle (D-36), Jeff Morris (D-40), Kristine Lytton (D-40) and Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34_) said the proposed coal terminal in Bellingham would not produce jobs outside the immediate vicinity of the coal terminal, and would create immense impacts on the environment (both in Washington state and globally) and real estate values. 

The legislators, along with their colleagues Andy Billig (D-3), Jim Moeller (D-49), and Steve Tharinger (D-24), sent a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire to set up a task force that will make sure that the state studies the economic, transportation, and environmental impacts that might result from a proposed coal-train terminal in Bellingham, including as many as 18 1.6-mile-long trains per day. 

"We have a fundamental responsibility to consider all the impacts" of coal trains through cities in Western Washington, Carlyle said, noting that the state department of transportation could not tell advocates or legislators what the capacity of the state's freight rail system is. "Those types of questions have to be in the EIS." 

Carlyle added that "there's a very well-organized effort" to promote the trains, which includes PR firms like Strategies 360.

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