Locals may notice a marked increase in rail traffic if a proposed coal processing plant in Bellingham is approved, and it won't be pretty.
The Marysville City Council heard a presentation on the Cherry Point Coal Train project at the July 25 meeting, given by Barbara Dykes and Tom Ehrlichman of Salish Land Policy Solutions, outlining the possible impacts an increase in coal trains may have on the Marysville community.
The amount of train activity could double from the current eighteen trains each day, causing one and half hours to three hours of delay at major intersections throughout Marysville.
Several state and local permits still need to be approved, including the Endangered Species Act at the state level. Planning for the project could take three years or more.
Fourteen intersections in Marysville would be affected by the traffic, including Grove Street and 88th. Back-up onto I-5 already occurs during rush hour traffic with the current eighteen trains.
The impacts from increased coal trains vary, from a public health concern, due to diesel emissions, coal dust, and increased noise and traffic, to economic impacts on small business. Over 150 Whatcom County doctors have signed a petition to delay the project because of pollution emitted from coal trains.
Dykes introduced a major dilemma--should the city focus on the short-term benefits of more coal trains, which include a possible increase in jobs, or should the council focus on the long-term consequences, which include an impact to the environment and our community's health?
Currently, Mayor Jon Nehring does not see an advantage for Marysville in the coal trains project. Although job gain in coal is viable for Whatcom County residents and others, Marysville could only see increased traffic and a damaging affect on small business owners.
In other traffic-related news, the council approved a Commute Trip Reduction Law. This law requires that cities, counties, and towns with businesses with a staff of 100 or more, develop plans and projects that will reduce single occupant vehicle commute trips. This will improve vehicle-related air pollution, gasoline consumption and other traffic congestion problems.
The council also approved an understanding of continued participation in the Housing Task Force. The Snohomish County Tomorrow Inter-jurisdictional Housing Committee is creating a new program that would allow multiple jurisdictions to work together to expand affordable housing opportunities.
In entertainment news, the council approved two applications for events in Marysville. Marysville's annual "Homegrown Festival" will proceed on August 12th and 13th. Plus the possibility of a new annual event is underway.
Requested by the Marysville Boys' and Girls' club the first "M.O.M.Fest" (M.O.M stands for Musicians of Marysville) will be held August 20 at the Boys' and Girls' club location. Described as an all-day youth arts festival, it will include local music, visual arts and dance acts.
For more information on events and news pertaining to the city of Marysville visit marysvillewa.gov.