If you stay in this business long enough, everything old becomes new, and vice versa.
It’s worth noting that back in 1981, port and railroad people made no mention of any existing right-of-way across the county on an east-west alignment to Cherry Point. They concluded that obtaining that right-of-way would be too difficult.
One might wonder: Why wasn’t such a seemingly logical link between the two parallel rail lines built decades ago? The answer seems to be that these two lines (Blaine-Bellingham-Everett via the coast, and Sumas-Burlington, via the South Fork-Highway 9 trajectory) were not built to form a coherent rail network. They were competing lines.
I’m going to oversimplify a bit here and get true rail history scholars a bit agitated, but it basically went like this: The coastal line originated as the Fairhaven & Southern, which was absorbed by Great Northern and later became part of the BNSF system. The Sumas route, a portion of it at least, was built by the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad, which eventually joined the Milwaukee Road.
This BB&BC RR had tracks extending from Bellingham northeast through such places as Van Wyck and Goshen before joining up with the north-south line that linked Sumas to Sedro-Woolley and Burlington. The existence of that connection enabled Bellingham people to take the train to the first Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden in 2010.
But that link was abandoned when Milwaukee Road shut down. That leaves the Bellingham coastal route as the most direct rail connection to Cherry Point.