BNSF currently owns the Farmland Route that branches in Burlington, WA northeast through Sedro Whooley, the South Fork Valley, Nooksack, Everson through the Sumas. There has also been consideration of an east/west rail expansion proposal connecting the rail like through Lynden to Custer [see Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan’s rail map ].
BNSF can choose to use or further develop this route at any time, for additional freight or for coal trains going to or returning empty from Cherry Point.
In addition to requesting that all existing rail lines and potential rail expansion projects tin Whatcom County be adequately studied in the Environmental Impact Statement, consider the following impacts on agricultural and rural communities:
TRAIN IMPACTS to consider on the FARMLAND ROUTE:
AGRICULTURAL risks, including vibration and noise on livestock and dairy production, soil and crop pollution, crop damage, loss and division of farmland, sense of place, heritage;
CONSTRUCTION upgrades, spurs, links, bridges, etc. and the impacts of that construction on traffic, the environment, and the transformative impacts upon our communities and sense of place, etc. Also, expense to TAXPAYERS;
DERAILMENTS and increased risks of derailments associated with wet soils, landslides, and seismic activity areas, as well as home safety close to the tracks and ecological impacts of derailments.
TRAFFIC and the potential for ACCIDENTS at unsafe rural crossings, or with increasing stops on winding roads and/or attempts for cars or trucks to “beat” delays (naming specific crossings);
WAIT TIMES for trains to cross (or if a train derails) and impacts on first responders, school bus routing, and increased commute times, etc.;
COMMUNITY HEALTH risks associated with diesel particulates (asthma, lung, and heart), loss of coal in transport and coal dust or runoff from rain— either airborne or after settling on crops and in water ways.
SCHOOLS and proximity of the schools to the tracks and exposure of children to noise, health risks, and safety issues.
WATERWAYS and FISH and their proximity to the tracks and risks to habitats from rail line pollution and coal dust and runoff; and
Anything else (and PLEASE let us know your concerns)
TERMINAL IMPACTS include: fugitive coal dust, ecosystem destruction, aquifer degradation, ecosystem destruction, and impacts on existing natural resource industries such as fishing, farming, and tourism.
What can I do?
You can help define what the Environmental Impact Statement must consider as the ramifications of using the Farmland Route during the “Scoping Process,” which ends on January 21, 2013.
Details on the Scoping Process is available on our main page.