How The GPT Proposal Threatens Our Waterfront

Watch this 3-minute video slideshow: How The GPT Proposal Threatens Our Waterfront

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Take Action. Bellingham’s Mayor Linville and City Council have already expressed their concerns about the siding.  Add your voice to theirs by contacting County Executive Jack Louws with your personal concerns. Call or email at: (360) 676-6717  -or-

Thank you to Paul Anderson for many of the photographs used in the video.

Why would a new waterfront track be needed?

In order to service the needs of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, the project developers have identified that 18 additional trains per day would be required to travel on the existing BNSF line through Bellingham and Whatcom County enroute to Cherry Point. The existing segment of train track that stretches between Bow and Ferndale is presently operating near capacity and would be unable to handle the additional traffic required by GPT.  Numerous Department of Transportation (WSDOT) studies conducted in concert with BNSF and independent transportation consultants have examined this Bow to Ferndale bottleneck problem and concur that in order to meet GPT’s operational needs:  A new train siding should be constructed along the waterfront.

This solution is driven by the fact that Bellingham is in a unique position; it is at the middle of the capacity bottleneck between Bow and Ferndale. Engineers agree that building a new siding at the middle of this bottleneck is most feasible way to double the capacity. This siding extension is the only option for which preliminary engineering and budgets have been prepared. It has been used every time simulations are performed for transit studies, most recently in 2011 and still remains a priority in the latest draft of the WA State Rail Plan Draft released in September of 2013.

CWB has been studying the impacts of this siding since 2012.  More complete and technical information can be found HERE.

Learn more about the impacts

If GPT is approved, building this second track along this entire stretch of waterfront on the shoreline side of the main track would have many impacts. It would necessitate the permanent closure of existing railroad crossings in three locations:

  • Bayview Drive access to Boulevard Park (vehicle and pedestrian impacts)
  • South Bay Trail access to Boulevard Park (pedestrian impacts)
  • Wharf Street access to the south end of the former Georgia-Pacific site and the planned waterfront park (vehicle and pedestrian impacts)

Changes to Boulevard Park

The impacts to Boulevard Park from the new waterfront siding for GPT would be particularly profound.  These include the elimination of parking and all vehicular access to Boulevard Park.  The permanent closure of the popular South Bay trail will fracture the City’s only trail connecting Bellingham and Fairhaven.  The loss of emergency services access would limit permissible park activities.