Thursday, March 18, 2010

Inland City Suit Over Port Impacts Rejected

A California Superior Court judge has rejected a suit by the City of Riverside that sought to stop the expansion of the China Shipping Container Line terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

The 2009 suit claimed that the port did not adequately consider the impacts of increased intermodal rail traffic from the terminal to Riverside. The desert community sits more than 50 miles inland from the port but serves as a key rail hub for Southern California port rail traffic headed east. Nearly 130 trains a day move through Riverside communities and city officials argued in the suit that proposed terminal expansions at the Los Angeles and neighboring Long Beach port could mean more than 20 additional trains a day.

In the suit, Riverside demanded that the port redo environmental documents related to the Los Angeles terminal expansion. In addition, the city sought payments from the port to build grade separations isolating cargo rail traffic from the city's street traffic.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Bauer ruled that the port environmental documents had considered the potential impacts to Riverside and properly concluded that the terminal expansion would have "an insignificant impact" on the city. The March 10 decision was made public this week.

Concerns had been raised by the shipping industry that a Riverside victory could set a precedent where ports could be held financially liable for increased cargo traffic impacts to dozens of communities that port cargo travels through.

A similar suit by Riverside over a proposed terminal expansion at the Port of Long Beach is still pending.