Friday, January 9, 2009

Here we go again!

08 Jan 2009 1:05pm SEATTLE (AP) -- No freight or passenger trains are moving between Seattle and Portland, but train officials say freight trains are making it across the Cascade Range. Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which operates the tracks, says they will restart north-south service for both passengers and freight as soon as the water drains off the rail bed.

Amtrak issued the following press release:

Empire Builder
Train 7(8) is cancelled between Minneapolis and Seattle/Portland, with no alternate transportation. Train 8(9) is cancelled tomorrow between Seattle/Portland and Minneapolis, with no alternate transportation.

Amtrak Cascades
BNSF Railway has suspended train traffic between Seattle and Portland due to mudslides. There is no train service between Seattle and Portland, with no alternate transportation. Train service between Seattle and Bellingham or Vancouver, B.C. remains suspended, with alternative motor coach transportation provided. Train service between Portland and Eugene, Ore. continues to operate normally.

Coast Starlight
Trains 11 and 14, which normally operate between Seattle and Los Angeles, will originate and terminate in Portland. Alternate transportation will depend on weather conditions.

Looking carefully at this map, you can see in the bottom right hand corner, there are four major streams feeding into the Chehalis River. Just above Chehalis is Centralia. It’s that tiny stretch that overruns the BNSF and I-5.

And folks, we aren’t talking the Columbia River or the Mississippi River or even the Red River. The Chehalis in the summer time, well, you could almost throw a rock across it!

Now as you can see, the river level at Chehalis had risen rather dramatically, as it does every year. All of those streams in the lower right of the map feed their waters into this gauge!

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - by Steve Wilhelm

Flooding throughout the Puget Sound region cut off nearly all rail connections on Thursday, affecting the Port of Tacoma much more than the Port of Seattle.

The only open rail connection, Stevens Pass, is operated exclusively by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), and primarily handles intermodal cargo for the Port of Seattle. Stevens Pass crosses the Cascade Mountains east of Everett.
The Port of Tacoma is more dependent on rail routes heading south, and tracks owned by BNSF were flooded and closed on Thursday.

Port of Tacoma spokeswoman Tara Mattina said that five inbound and five outbound trains from the port had been halted by the flooding. She said the port is negotiating with the BNSF to move some Port of Tacoma cargo through the Stevens Pass tunnel, adding that outbound trains were now sitting on Tacoma Rail tracks at the port.

Union Pacific Railroad, the other large operator with service into the Puget Sound area, uses BNSF trackage to the south and was also shut down, said Union Pacific spokeswoman Zoe Richmond. Melonas said that in addition to flooding of BNSF tracks to the south of Puget Sound, near Centralia, tracks heading north to Canada also were flooded by high water in Stanwood and Ferndale, near the Canadian border.

And rain also washed out 100 feet of truck at Stampede Pass, although that route doesn't handle intermodal trains.

I believe the Feds and Washington State should come up with a plan to dump some frigging dirt on the damn freeway, and raise that thing up 8 to ten feet in the few trouble spots that cause this massive interruption in commerce.

This is the third time in a dozen years this has happened, supposedly costing millions of dollars in losses. So raising the freeway and BNSF roadbeds would be a drop in the bucket, in my opinion.

But such issues are beyond the scope of this blog!

3 Comments - Click here:

SDP45 said...

Didn't they just go through all this?

What a mess.


Unknown said...

For the millions it would cost to raise up anything that moves traffic or goods, I'm sure millions more would be saved. Hopefully Olympia will figure this out and start looking for money.

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Unfortunately for us, Olympia IS the problem. Can't keep traffic moving, can't keep ferry's moving, can't relace a viaduct, and so on and so on and so on. Can you imagine what the likes of Jim Hill, Jay Cook, Thomas Durant, Sir William Cornelius Van Horne and others in their class would have to say about such a dismal state department.

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