2013 Totem Pole Journey: On Main Street

Towns and small cities along the proposed coal train corridor would be subject to a dramatic increase in rail traffic intensity. The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen/Cherry Point proposes to export 48 million metric tonnes of coal per year. Coal trains are typically 1 to 2 miles long, and require  the power of 4 or 5 diesel locomotives. There are a number of concerns regarding public health, quality of life, and economic impacts.  Particularly for smaller communities bisected by the rail line, interruption of the flow of commerce, emergency response times, noise, safety and public health are real issues.  According to the Western Organization of Resource Councils, “The price tag for upgrading rail lines, roads and other infrastructure to support proposed coal export facilities on the West Coast could reach into the billions of dollars across the four-state Northwest region.” A report, Heavy Traffic Ahead: Rail Impacts of Powder River Basin Coal to Asia by Way of Pacific Northwest Terminals, details these costs and concerns.