Friday, January 18, 2013

Groundbreaking Held for LA Rail Yard Project

The Port of Los Angeles broke ground this week on a new intermodal storage rail yard that’s designed to provide staging and storage for trains using the 20-mile Alameda Corridor railroad express line, thereby improving a vital link in the national freight network.

Construction of the $137 million rail project at Berth 200, also known as the West Basin Railyard, is expected to generate about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. When completed, the rail yard is expected to eliminate about 2,300 daily truck trips from the Long Beach (710) and Harbor (110) freeways, which in turn would help improve regional air quality.

The project will also enable track space at the TraPac container terminal to serve as TraPac’s future on-dock rail facility. Over the next three years, $365 million in rail, roadway and terminal improvements will be completed at TraPac, which is currently the only Los Angeles terminal without on-dock rail.

“In order to stay competitive, we need to continue to make investments, to keep the cargo here, keep the jobs here and keep the Port of Los Angeles the no. 1 premier gateway,” POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said during a Jan. 16 groundbreaking for the project. “It’s going to help us move the cargo more efficiently, it’s going to make the port a better business partner and neighbor to the surrounding community,” she said. “It will also allow us to construct an on-dock rail yard for TraPac. So the one terminal we have that doesn’t have on-dock rail will now have on-dock rail.”

The port is investing $48.37 million in the project and the rail yard has also received $16 million in federal grant money from the US Department of Transportation’s highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program known as “TIGER” discretionary grant funding.

Additionally, the port also secured $51.2 million from the State Proposition 1B Trade Corridors Improvement Fund (TCIF) grant administered by the California Dept. of Transportation and $22.1 million from METRO-awarded federal funds.

“This project creates jobs, reduces pollution and makes our city a better place to live, work and do business,” LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “The economic and environmental benefits of this investment will be felt across the nation.”

The project will be built in two phases. Phase I includes construction of the new yard, support tracks for the TraPac and China Shipping/West Basin Container terminals, double-track connections to the Alameda Corridor and national rail network and access road improvements. Phase II is due to begin construction later this year and includes final rail network connections and vehicle overpasses to eliminate at-grade crossings for safer, more efficient flow of truck and commuter traffic. Both phases are due to be completed in summer 2014.

The new yard is projected to generate $1 billion in annual state revenues by 2030.