Friday, June 7, 2013

Long Beach Files Suit Against SCIG Project

The City of Long Beach on June 5 filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against a BNSF Railway and Port of Los Angeles plan to construct a $500 million rail yard project that Long Beach says would negatively affect its residents.

In its suit, Long Beach seeks an injunction against the 153-acre Southern California International Gateway, or SCIG, project. The proposed project would sit just outside West Long Beach, alongside the Terminal Island Freeway on land owned by the Port of LA. The project, if built, would serve on-dock rail facilities at both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles.

The City of Long Beach, however, claims that the SCIG would adversely affect its residents, businesses and schools by bringing more noise and air pollution to an area that has already suffered plenty over the years due to nearby port-related operations.

“The negative effects of the rail yard project will be borne almost entirely by the residents of West Long Beach,” the legal complaint states in part.

The city also contends in its suit that the project doesn’t comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, a statute requiring state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts.

Despite ongoing objections by the City of Long Beach, the Los Angeles City Council on May 8 gave final approval to the SCIG via an 11-2 vote; the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission likewise approved the project in March.

The project also has had major support from local labor unions due to the estimated 1,500 direct and indirect jobs per year that BNSF has said the project would create over three years.

The railway company also says that if built, the SCIG would reduce truck traffic, freeway congestion and air pollution by eliminating about 1.3 million truck trips annually along a 24-mile stretch of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to BNSF’s Hobart Yard near downtown LA.

Originally, construction was due to begin later this year and open in 2016, but that plan could be delayed or scrapped altogether depending on the status of Long Beach’s legal action.