The proposal to build the Gateway Pacific Terminal generated much controversy in Bellingham, Washington. As a deep-water port slated to export large quantities of coal and other commodities, the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) threatened to increase the amount of rail traffic passing through the region.The following study uses a hedonic price model to test whether proximity to the railroad affected the sales price of houses in Bellingham after the announcement of the GPT environmental review process. Little previous research focuses on the effect of rail traffic on housing prices in the Pacific Northwest and no empirical studies have examined the effects of increased traffic due to proposed export terminals. This study attempts to fill the gap in the existing literature. Using data for roughly 1,900 houses sold between 2010 and 2016, I tested my hypothesis using six separate model specifications that featured different inflation control methods as well as different methods of measuring distance between houses and the railroad. Ultimately, across the six specifications, I found no evidence to support my hypothesis. Neither the announcement of the GPT project or proximity to the railroad significantly affected the sales price of houses in Bellingham. As of the time of publication, the GPT project remains undeveloped. Shifting political and economic conditions, however, could lead to renewed interest in an export facility at the GPT site. If that occurs, this research can serve as a reference for researchers and community members.
Howe, Rose G., "Coal Trains and Home Values: the Effect of the Gateway Pacific Terminal Project on Housing Prices in Bellingham, Washington" (2017). WWU Honors Program Senior Projects. 48.