I predict BNSF tracks will go around Bellingham as well as through it once Bakken crude oil trains to the refineries at Cherry Point join coal trains to a new Gateway Pacific Terminal there. And, it won't be all bad as long as there's at least one sheriff's deputy protecting all wild salmon habitats along the Nooksack's South Fork and herring sloughs and tide flats on and around Cherry Point.
Think of it this way. Even when reduced shipping rates have China availing itself of Panamax and Valemax coal shipments from Indonesia and Australian coal rather than from here, our Gateway Pacific Terminal could still be serving a shared mechanical manufacturing complex plus one or two chemical factories on our waterfront plus varied food processing and manufacturing businesses all along an environmentally friendly farming and industrial corridor Cherry Point to Longview-Kelso.
The major incentive, of course, would be the economic muscle derived thereby without any major influx of ships into Bellingham Bay. And, think of the wonderful environmental safeguards and attractiveness that could be built into our waterfront that in couple with all the skiing and fishing here would make getting necessary skill sets into Cisco Cat-5 satellite office buildings uptown as well as into the shared-manufacturing and chemical plants on the waterfront "easy pieces-of-cake!"
His experience making car parts with TRW in my mind makes Mr. Panos the best of the port director candidates for getting this started and done.