Friday, April 1, 2016

Judge Orders New Review of Rail Project

By Mark Edward Nero

A Superior Court judge on March 30 ruled that BNSF Railway Co.’s planned Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project at the Port of Los Angeles must undergo a new Environmental Impact Report because the previous one was inadequate.

The court case pits the Port of Los Angeles against the City of Long Beach. The city filed the lawsuit in June 2013 on behalf of residents of the city’s west side who could be impacted by air pollution caused by the proposed $500 million, 153-acre SCIG.

The city contends in its lawsuit 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.

The proposed project would sit just outside West Long Beach, alongside the Terminal Island Freeway on land owned by the Port of LA.

If built, the project would serve on-dock rail facilities at both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, but the City of Long Beach 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.

In his March 30 ruling, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barry Goode said that the Port of Los Angeles failed to perform an adequate environmental analysis.

In a statement, the Port of Los Angeles said it was disappointed with the ruling, plans to study it, and that staff will discuss next steps with BNSF and the port’s harbor commission.

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach said it applauds the judge’s ruling.

“The Southern California Intermodal Gateway project directly impacts the residents and businesses of West Long Beach and since the beginning the port has believed more should be done to mitigate the effects of the project on the Westside,” the POLB said in a statement.