(This is Part 3 of our Call for Projects review. Part 1 explained why this series is important. Part 2 looked at the car capacity enhancement proposals. Part 4 tomorrow.)
We don’t talk a lot about freight movement on Streetsblog, and we probably should. After all, the number of trucks on our roads are used to justify some of the most expensive highway projects and cause a disproportionate amount of air pollution.
There are other secondary costs to the amount of truck traffic moving through the port areas. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that local schools are installing filter systems to try and protect their students from particulates that could damage their lungs.
While the “clean trucks” program at both ports can reduce the pollution caused by each individual truck, the long-term plan to a sustainable port is to have less trucks and cleaner trucks together. It’s not like the cleaner trucks are now spewing rainbows and sunshine in to the air. Because the amount of freight coming in to the port is expected to grow in the coming years, it’s more important now than ever to reduce the amount of truck traffic using the port and increase the amount of freight rail.
Reviewing the 2011 Call for Projects applications in the freight movement category through that lens, the City of Los Angeles still has a lot to learn. The city is applying for six projects and $30 million dollars from a fund that only has $20 million for the entire county.
One of those projects would improve a rail yard adjacent to the port. The other five are about retrofitting local streets to make it easier for trucks to use them.
One of the projects adds truck routing signage, which if done correctly could encourage trucks to stay away from vulnerable residential neighborhoods. Another project improves interchanges to allow better freeway access. The worst of the truck capacity enhancement projects would actually turn Anaheim Street into a “Major Highway” so that it would carry twice the truck traffic it does today.
Of course, just because the agency applies for these projects doesn’t mean they’ll be funded. Because the city lists the freight rail project at the top of their list, and because there is an $11 million funding request, it’s possible that project will get funded and the truck projects will not.
Streetsblog will make sure to keep an eye on the final allocations by Metro and will let you know if a commitment to freight rail wins the day.