Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Port of Oakland Marks $15 Million Rail Grant

US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, California Gov. Jerry Brown and other local, regional and federal officials were on hand at the Port of Oakland July 9 to mark the port’s launch of the first phase of a rail project that has just received $15 million in federal grant funding.

 “This $15 million grant from the federal government boosts state and local efforts to create thousands of jobs by investing nearly $1.5 billion in Bay Area transportation projects. We’re not just rebuilding our infrastructure – we are also rebuilding our middle class,” Gov. Brown said during a ceremony commemorating the funding.

The grant comes from the latest round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant program.

TIGER funds are expected to boost rail access and capacity at the Port of Oakland by helping to pay for the construction of a new arrival track and high-speed turnout from Union Pacific’s mainline, two track leads into the port’s new Joint Intermodal Terminal and a new manifest yard to replace the former yard. The new yard is anticipated to be able to handle 100-150 rail cars per day.

The project is a crucial first step, the port says, in creating a world class trade and logistics hub on the land, which is the former site of the Oakland Army Base. The Army abandoned the 366-acre base in 1999 and later split the land between the port and the city.

The $80 million rail yard expansion is just the initial first phase of a more than $1 billion project to transform the former 366-acre base into a high-tech maritime transportation logistics center.

The Port of Oakland handles 99 percent of all containerized goods in Northern California and is the only major US West Coast container port that handles more exports than imports.

“The Port of Oakland is already the leading export gateway on the West Coast and this TIGER grant will help boost rail access and capacity, which will contribute to the economic growth of the region,” LaHood said.

The federal funding is expected to be matched more than one-to-one by the port and city to launch the first phase of the rail access project, which is part of a joint city-port redevelopment plan.

The project, according to the port, is expected to deliver greater efficiencies in Oakland’s rail operations, create additional capacity for cargo movement at the seaport, reduce congestion on local roads and highways, create jobs, and promote sustainable economic growth in the region.

“This grant is another giant step forward toward implementing a transformative project at the Port of Oakland which will translate into thousands of jobs for our city and will spur economic growth for generations to come,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said. “The TIGER grant-funded Rail Access project provides a critical link between the new logistics center and the existing port infrastructure making Oakland one of the most efficient ports in the nation.”

The rail project is expected to begin in the fall of 2013, with completion scheduled for 2015.