SEATTLE—Today, the Puget Sound Regional Council released a study evaluating the projected impact of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal on regional infrastructure. While the study acknowledges the significant economic benefits the Gateway Pacific Terminal, its overall conclusions drew criticism from area labor and business leaders.
“I’m not an economist, but the ‘costs’ projected in the study don’t seem to add up”, said Mike Elliott, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. “The PSRC is assigning a self-derived ‘cost’ to increased activity in our rail and ports. I don’t think that accurately reflects things in the real world. Remember, our railroads and ports are the economic engines for this entire region”.
Puget Sound Regional Council Study Flawed – Create New Jobs
The study attempted to assign costs to increased rail traffic and predict increases in wait times around the terminals. It fails to note that the volume of trains running in Washington today is lower than the high point of rail volume that occurred prior to the recession. The study does not explain or evaluate whether those costs were observed in 2006 when communities were experiencing rail volumes similar to the levels that Gateway Pacific would generate when the facility reaches full capacity – around 2025.
“Gateway and the other proposed bulk commodity export terminals will generate $1.5 billion in private investment to grow and expand trade with Asia – benefitting Washington’s trade industry and Washington based exporters. This study overlooks those benefits,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business.
Several notable community leaders associated with the study noted the regional importance of the Gateway facility in reaction to the news report:
“The point is that dislike of a specific commodity or opposition to its transport should not be allowed to constrain or otherwise damage a rail transportation system critical to the Washington economy and its trade position. Many of the opponents of coal would not be stoking fears of rail congestion were almost any other commodity in play.
In fact, many would-be supporting increases in train traffic to rid our highways and cities of major congestion and air deterioration caused by car and trucks,” said Terry Finn, member of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board.
“If our trade-dependent economy is going to generate more family-wage jobs and if we’re going to keep the jobs we have now, our state and the railroads need to invest in critical rail improvements,” continued Commissioner Bill Bryant, representing Washington’s ports on the Puget Sound Regional Council executive board.