Reminder: Mayor to host Town Hall Thursday on growing train traffic concerns

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In this file photo, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling addressed the issue of increased train traffic during a recent panel discussion in Everett. (Photo by Larry Vogel)
In this file photo, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling addressed the issue of increased train traffic during a recent panel discussion in Everett. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling is hosting a Town Hall on the evening of Oct. 2 to discuss what experts predict may be an alarming increase in train traffic through Edmonds. The public event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Plaza Room of the Edmonds Library. The purpose of the Town Hall is to share information about the substantial projected growth in oil and coal transport by train, as well as the overall continued increase in volumes of train traffic passing through downtown Edmonds, and to discuss the critical impact that increases in train traffic will have on the Edmonds waterfront community and state Ferry system. The meeting will offer the public an opportunity to raise questions, share concerns and provide information.

“The projected increases in train traffic volumes through Edmonds are of particular concern to this community,”  Earling said in a Thursday announcement, “given that at-grade train crossings cut off our waterfront from the rest of the city for an increasing amount of time every day.” Trains currently block vehicular, pedestrian and emergency access to the Washington State Ferry Terminal, Port of Edmonds, Senior Center and a thriving business community for approximately one-and-a-half hours per day, and as train volumes are projected to grow, that blockage could rise to four hours a day. “That’s clearly unacceptable and dangerous for our community,” added Mayor Earling.

In addition, the higher volumes of oil and coal trains further compound the risks to the community, and particularly the waterfront area.

“The Town Hall is an opportunity for all sides to be heard,” Earling said. “Representatives from industry, the environmental community, regional government, and the State Department of Transportation will participate, in addition to members of the public. We hope to learn from one another.”

The Town Hall will be held at the Plaza Room of the Edmonds Library, 650 Main St., Edmonds. The facility is ADA accessible.

15 COMMENTS

  1. “It took “more than 1,000 firefighters from 80 different municipalities in Quebec, and from six counties in the state of Maine” to help with evacuations and fire-fighting efforts in the small town (Lac-Megantic) of only a few thousand people, according to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada report.”–Bellingham Herald

    Lac-Megantic was just one of six massive explosions involving Bakken oil trains. The first was in 2008. There have been five more incidents since July 2013.

    Crude Oil: Mostly carbon, some hydrogen, and small amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, and various metals.

    NOT Crude Oil: Methane, hextane, pentane, propane, heptane, ethane, butane, isobutane…

    Do NOT put the “NOT Crude Oil” in the same railroad tanker cars as the “Crude Oil,” as the Bakken producers have been doing, and the trains won’t explode. Is that too friggen much to ask?

    “If I threw a match into Bakken crude oil it would not ignite it.” –John Auers; Executive Vice President at Turner Mason & Company. Turner, Mason is an energy consulting firm that wrote “The North Dakota Petroleum Council Study on Bakken Crude Properties” report for the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC), the lobbying entity for the Bakken oil producers.

    If Mr. Auers speaks the truth, and why would you doubt a lobbyist, then Bakken producers must be squeezing a ton of NGL’s into the tanker cars, because they sure have IGNITED!

    To remove the explosive element from Bakken crude, the North Dakota Industrial Commission MUST mandate the “STABILIZATION” of the oil, with ACTUAL stabilizers, before shipping by rail. Nothing less. The explosions must stop. The North Dakota Industrial Commission has full and complete authority to fix this problem. Now, after 10 years…FINALLY, it needs to be done right.

    Contact the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the media, ND media, elected officials, your associates, and scream from the rooftops. Demand “Stabilization.” Stand up for the lives of the people who live, work, or play within a mile of tracks where the Bakken oil trains roll.

    North Dakota Industrial Commission
    701-328-3722
    ndicinfo@nd.gov

    Ron Schalow
    Fargo, North Dakota
    The Coalition for Bakken Crude Oil Stabilization

    Minnesota Governor Dayton’s letter to Governor Dalrymple of North Dakota; regarding explosive Bakken oil trains…
    http://kstp.com/kstpImages/repository/cs/files/Gov_%20Dayton%20Letter%20to%20ND%20Governor.pdf

    Oil executives say Bakken crude stabilization unnecessary
    http://www.prairiebizmag.com/event/article/id/20957/

    Stabilization is only unnecessary, if they are willing to accept that Bakken oil trains will violently explode every time they derail.

    Out of the Mouth’s of Lobbyists

    “North Dakota Petroleum Council Vice President Kari Cutting says Bakken crude involved in fiery train crashes was not the cause of the crashes.”

  2. Also what about the NOISE of the trains. are we all hearing it through the night, following each other within minutes of the last one, going at speed and blaring their horn all the way through our town? haven’t we had enough of that alone, and can’t the City do something about that NOW?? Please deal with this issue first……..it cn be done, and should have been done years ago.

  3. Seriously folks, there needs to be an additional fire/medical and rescue team stationed on the ferry side of the tracks. What happens if a walker has a heart attack,a diver needs medical help ,train derailment or fire takes place while a train is passing through? Also can the coal trains be covered so that the coal dust stops polluting our environment? I have heard they spray the coal so that the coal arsenic does not fly around as much.
    Makes me sad to see our waterfront suffer!

  4. The Puget Sound Regional Council (psrc.org) recently released a new study that evaluates the economic effects of the proposed “Gateway Pacific at Cherry Point Terminal” on King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. A few pages address the impact on Edmonds. I suspect we might write a different analysis. Kudos to Mayor Earling for his consistent leadership and attention to this issue.

  5. As you probably know, we are getting about 240 tank cars of Bakken per day here in Albany, New York. It is being off-loaded to boats at our port on the Hudson River. From there, it is shipped to refineries in Philadelphia, PA and St. John, New Brunswick.

    The reason I am giving this background is that, before Albany, these same trains are passing through a small city just North of Albany. There, they are blocking automobile and ambulance traffic, just as is being discussed along your waterfront. It turns out that we have a law here which prohibits railroads from blocking roads for more than five minutes. Of course, no one ever enforces it, but it is the law. Some citizens have approached the Common Council there to request that it be enforced.

    Big surprise, the Council came up with lots of excuses about the definition of a road and then said that they do not know how to arrest a train. Obviously, they are not very smart because their lawyer would probably be happy to explain how a municipality can legally serve the railroad company to show up in court. That would start a city effort at getting serious, instead acting powerless and stupid.

    I have no idea if your state has any laws about how long it is legal for railroads to block roads. If you have such a law, you should get enforced. If you do not have such a law, you should get your state legislature to pass one.

    I hope this helps.

    • The length of time a single train blocks the roadway is somewhat of a problem, but much more significant is the growing frequency of the trains.

  6. Again I feel that Mr. Wambolt is correct. The big problem will be the number of minutes every day in which the tracks are in use by longer and more numerous trains. The geographic and economic value of the land west of the tracks is in peril. In the Shilshole neighborhood in Seattle, the roads and tracks go over and under. Our solution may need to be that big of a idea.

  7. The most significant issue the city of Edmonds is facing is not Sunset Ave. or the roundabout, but trains. Lots of them; many carrying oil or coal. We need our city leaders to lead, not sit passively by while the railroads determine our future. The only good solution to our safety, esthetic and noise concerns is the train trench. It eliminates the train whistles, dampens the tract noise and allows for the free passage of ferry traffic and the cars crossing Dayton and Main. It allows emergency access to the waterfront which is a serious safety and health issue.
    We need to let our city leaders know that they need to get serious and tackle this issue head on.

    • Mr. Reibman:
      You must be reading very selectively! Mayor Earling has been very active pursuing solutions for the train issues. Haven’t you even read the news story above that has caused the comments prior to yours?

  8. I second that opinion that Steve made regarding the Train Trench. It is an idea that needs to be vetted ASAP.
    I did hear that the city is having an engineering firm looking into the possibility and cost.

    • Diane:
      Town Hall meeting is correct. That name was selected to describe the format for the meeting – presentations from community officials and Q & A for citizens.

      • I agree, Ron. We used to have “Town Hall” meetings at the company I worked for, because it described the intended format.

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