Elected leaders ask for answers on potential coal trains through region

The Mayor of Algona wants to know what the impact of additional long trains will be on emergency services in his city.  The King County Executive notes that King County’s leadership is voicing concern and wants to know the economic, health, environmental and property value impacts of additional coal trains.  The Mayor of Everett is interested in the safety of additional oil trains from North Dakota oil fields bound for Puget Sound refineries.

PSRC is leading a study on the regional economic impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County.

PSRC is leading a study to inform regional leadership and the general public about the economic effects of the proposed Gateway Pacific bulk commodity terminal on the four counties of central Puget Sound.

Consultants hired by the Puget Sound Regional Council were asked to answer those questions and more in an economic study of a proposed new coal terminal north of Bellingham.

That study is underway, with the next step being an identification of regional impacts and economic effects, followed by an analysis of opportunities for mitigation for locations where these regional impacts may be highest.

Regional freight activity on the rail lines that would support the Gateway Pacific Terminal has recovered from the recession and is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades. Passenger rail travel on these same lines is also expected to grow during this time. Demand on these lines may also increase due to the increased transport of Bakken oil.

Of six proposed coal terminals within Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Cherry Point would have the largest impact on the central Puget Sound region.

The next steps in the study will identify the regional impacts and provide the analysis of the economic impacts.

This is expected to be presented to the board on April 24. PSRC’s study is one of 6 currently underway.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the terminal is expected in 2016 and the phase one terminal could be completed two years after approval.

View the presentation from the February 27 Executive Board meeting. Previous post on this topic.

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Farm Forum offers ideas for Pierce County agriculture

A sold-out crowd — including more than 70 working farmers — attended the inaugural Pierce County Farm Forum earlier this month.

The forum featured presentations and interactive sessions on agricultural marketing and growing a successful farm business.

All four central Puget Sound counties have been working to support agriculture and the local food economy. King County recently initiated its Local Food Initiative to expand the local food economy and improve access to healthy food.

The Kitsap Food Policy Council was recently re-launched, and Snohomish County organizes the successful annual Focus on Farming event, in additional to regular planning and support for agriculture.

PSRC convenes monthly meetings of the Regional Food Policy Council, which brings together community, government, business and agricultural interests to develop policy recommendations to strengthen the regional food system. The next meeting is on March 14, 2014, 10 a.m.- 12:00 noon at PSRC.

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Executive Board meets Feb 27, will discuss coal study

A discussion of the economic evaluation of the regional impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific terminal at Cherry Point is scheduled for PSRC’s Executive Board meeting on Thursday, February 27 at 10 am.

PSRC is leading a study on the regional economic impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County.

PSRC is leading a study on the regional economic impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County.

The briefing will include a report on the background work that has been completed to date and will also provide an opportunity for the consultant team to receive input from board members as the research continues. The discussion will continue at the April 24 Executive Board meeting.

The Executive Board will also act an a recommendation to create a Regional Transit-Oriented Development Advisory Committee and the Regional Centers Monitoring Report.

See the full agenda here.

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Bakken Oil transport and safety discussed at Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable

The Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable recently discussed the increasing transport of Bakken Oil from North Dakota and the current regulatory environment with regards to oil transport safety.

Five refineries in Washington are in the permitting process to allow for new transfer of Bakken Crude oil.

Five refineries in Washington are in the permitting process to allow for new transfer of Bakken Crude oil.

Dave Beyers, Oil Spills Response Manager with the Department of Ecology described the current program and gave some context for the increases in crude-by-rail moving through the state.  Five refineries in Washington are in the permitting process to allow for new transfer of Bakken Crude.  Ecology’s spill response program is currently a national model for best practices, but inland preparedness along rail corridors is not up to the same level of readiness, something the Dept of Ecology would like to address.  House Bill 2347 recently passed by the House in Olympia would partially address some of the safety concerns around this commodity transport.  Senate Bill 6524 would establish a study related to vessel transport. Dave Beyers presentation can be found here.

Hal Cooper, a consultant who recently returned from working in the Bakken region discussed recent developments in that region and their potential impact here in the central Puget Sound.  Washington State is an ideal location due to proximity to Asia.  Crude oil from the Bakken is increasing rapidly, with the Kinder Morgan facility having a current capacity of 170,000 barrels per day and an expectation that this will double.  The Bakken oil is a light crude that is highly valuable, while also being highly volatile.  Mr Cooper points out in his presentation that transport through urban areas is not recommended.  With a decline in oil from Prudhoe Bay Alaska, there is greater interest on the part of refineries to have access to this new source of high quality, and high value crude oil.

For more information on the Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable and to be added to the distribution list, please contact Sean Ardussi  at sardussi@psrc.org, or 206-464-7080.

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Environmental justice and Transportation 2040

PSRC is committed to environmental justice.

Watch a video on the Environmental Justice impacts of the  Transportation 2040 Update

Watch a video on the Environmental Justice impacts of the Transportation 2040 Update.

As part of the process to update Transportation 2040, PSRC is considering how the plan affects minority residents and people with low incomes.

An analysis was conducted  to ensure that low income and minority residents, as well as residents with special needs, benefit from Transportation 2040 and do not shoulder any negative impacts disproportionately.

The plan also addresses its effects on special needs populations.

Learn more about how the Draft Transportation 2040 Update affects low-income and minority people and other vulnerable residents by watching this video.

To request a presentation for your organization, contact Amy Ho at aho@psrc.org or 206-464-7518.

The public comment period for the Transportation 2040 Update runs until March 10, 2014.

 


PSRC funding call for projects, nearly $700 million available

The 2014 Project Selection Process for PSRC Funds is now underway!

Four processes will be conducted as part of the 2014 project selection process.

Four processes will be conducted as part of the 2014 project selection process.

PSRC invites public agencies in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties to submit applications for approximately $200 million of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds and $486 million of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds.

Workshops will be held in each of the four counties between February 26 – March 7, to review project evaluation criteria, applications, and eligibility requirements.

PSRC is debuting an online system for completing eligibility screening and regional applications. Find out more here.

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RapidRide E begins service along Aurora

Starting this month, North Seattle and Shoreline bus riders will be able to hop on the new RapidRide E line running along an 11-mile stretch of Aurora.

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New RapidRide service begins this month.

The E line replaces Route 358, Metro’s second highest ridership route, and will offer service every 10 minutes during peak travel, and every 15 minutes during other times of the day.

RapidRide E Line is the fifth RapidRide to come on line.  The C and D lines to West Seattle and Ballard started service in September 2012 and have seen ridership increase by 10-25% over the routes that were replaced.

PSRC has provided nearly $24.5 million in PSRC federal funds to the entire RapidRide program.  Additionally, two related RapidRide projects – bicycle access enhancements to RapidRide and Third Avenue Corridor improvements in downtown Seattle – received a total of $4 million.

 

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