Railroads Try to Sneak Into GMA with Stronger Provisions / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

HB 2468

3:35am  February 2, 2016 Wendy Harris

Has anyone been tracking HOUSE BILL 2468, Concerning rail dependent uses for purposes of the growth management act and related development regulations? Hope someone is on top of this because it appears to be a real doozy.

This may be an attempt to pre-empt community opposition by making rail traffic specifically appropriate for natural resource land (AG, mining, forestry), with emphasis on AG. There is a public hearing scheduled today, the 2nd, in Olympia and I think you can watch it on WTV.

Here is one of first paragraphs: NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature recognizes that it enacted7 the rail preservation program because railroads provide benefits to8 state and local jurisdictions that are valuable to economic9 development, highway safety, and the environment. The Washington10 state freight mobility plan includes the goal of supporting rural11 economies farm-to-market, manufacturing, and resource industry12 sectors. The plan makes clear that ensuring the availability of rail13 capacity is vital to meeting the future needs of the Puget Sound14 region. Rail-served industrial sites are a necessary part of a15 thriving freight mobility system, and are a key means of assuring16 that food and goods from rural areas are able to make it to people17 living in urban areas and international markets. Planned and18 effective access to railroad services is a pivotal aspect of19 transportation planning. A one hundred ten-car train can move maintenance, improves safety for nonfreight drivers, and reduces1 carbon emissions. The number of fatalities per billion ton-miles for2 trucking is more than nine times greater than compared to rail. The3 legislature affirms that it is in the public interest to allow4 economic development infrastructure to occur near rail lines as a5 means to alleviate strains on government infrastructure elsewhere.6 Therefore, the legislature finds that there is a need for counties7 and cities to improve their planning under the growth management act8 to provide much needed infrastructure for freight dependent uses9 10 adjacent to railroad lines.

I noticed that the new comp. plan provisions for AG had odd provisions for allowing the use of mining in the AG zone in some circumstances as something that supports the AG industry. I did not know what that was about, but things are starting to fall into place. Sure hope this does not move forward.

Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.

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