Mayor to commission study on economic impacts of coal trains through Seattle

Mayor Mike McGinn today announced that the city will look at the local economic impacts of coal trains passing through Seattle. There’s been concern about the environmental impacts of the possible 18 coal trains that could be rolling through Seattle (and Ballard) each day; the Sierra Club’s Coal Free Seattle group has pointed to the threat of coal dust pollution in our air and waterways. The economic study will look at the following, according to a press release from the city of Seattle:

  • 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

Studies of the traffic and safety impacts of the coal trains have found that traffic in the downtown waterfront area would suffer from lengthy railroad crossing waits. Public safety would also be impacted, as emergency vehicles won’t be able to quickly access the waterfront area when trains are passing through.

The economic study is scheduled to be completed by March 30, 2013. There is a public hearing tomorrow about the coal trains at the Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6F from 4 to 7 p.m.

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