Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn signaled Monday that he’ll become a player in the Northwest movement against coal exports, by releasing an analysis of how the added freight trains would congest traffic in Sodo and Belltown.
McGinn is responding to a proposal to ship coal from Wyominng through a new terminal at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham. Supporters say would will create jobs, and that if the coal doesn’t move through Cherry Point, it would simply go somewhere else. Coal already moves through British Columbia ports and there are multiple proposals to increase capacity there.
As for how coal trains would affect Seattle, the study by Parametrix said four street crossings in both Sodo and Belltown would be blocked up to 18 times a day for perhaps five minutes a trip. The trains would make traffic lines worse in places like South Holgate Street and South Lander Street in Sodo, when both freight and coal trains might hinder crosstown drivers at around 6 p.m., said consultant John Perlic. “They might have to wait for more than one train.”
McGinn and City Councilmember Mike O’Brien wasted little time going to the larger issue — they don’t want Washington state to act as an enabler for global warming.
“Even if it is burned in China, it has impacts here,” McGinn said at a news conference.
Reporters asked if it was ironic for the green-minded McGinn to care about car traffic, or why he might seem comparatively blase about how a Sonics arena would affect traffic. McGinn replied he’s trying to manage for all modes of travel — cars, transit, walking, bicycles — and that 6,000 car round-trips to an arena would happen mainly in the evenings when traffic is waning. “In both cases, we’re looking at what the data tell us,” he said.