Friday, September 18, 2015

POLB Completes $93 Million Rail Project

By Mark Edward Nero

On Sept. 16, Port of Long Beach officials held a ceremony to celebrate completion of a $93 million rail project that the port says is vital for improving its efficiency and sustainability of cargo movement as shipment volumes increase.

The so-called “Green Port Gateway” project – funded in part with state and federal transportation dollars – was approved for construction in late 2012 and was completed earlier this year. The project realigned a critical rail pathway to relieve a bottleneck, allowing port terminals to increase their use of on-dock rail, decreasing truck traffic and air pollution. The upgrades will serve the port’s southeast portion, including the new Middle Harbor terminal.

Overall, nearly six miles of new track was laid. The work included adding a third rail line under Ocean Boulevard, along with new retaining walls, utility line modifications and roadway improvements. Every on-dock rail train eliminates up to 750 truck trips from regional roadways.

“The Green Port Gateway shows the Port of Long Beach’s commitment to moving trade in an environmentally responsible way,” Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said.

The California State Transportation Agency, California Transportation Commission and CalTrans helped with $23.1 million from the state’s trade corridor improvement fund. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration assisted with $17 million.

Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said the Green Port Gateway is a key part of building the “Port of the Future.”

“This project will enable us to reach our goal of moving 35 percent of containerized cargo via on-dock rail this decade,” Slangerup said. “It will also support our long-range ambition to eventually move 50 percent of our goods directly from terminals by train.”

The port is planning $1 billion in rail projects over the next decade as part of a broader modernization program to strengthen the Port’s competitiveness and reduce port-related impacts to the environment. Compared to trucks, trains emit a third fewer greenhouse gases.