Port of Long Beach Breaks Ground on Project Expected to Alleviate Rail Congestion, Truck Pollution
In an attempt to not only clear traffic between the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Alameda Corridor rail line but also clear the air of pollutants, the Green Port Gateway–after years of discussion–is finally underway with a ten-month later-than-expected completion date.
Originally slated to be completed in September of this year with a projected $66 million budget, the project will now cost some $83.5 million and is projected to be finished in July of 2014. POLB scored a grant in December of 2011 from the U.S. Department of Transportation via their TIGER funding; after failing to receive funds in the first two rounds of TIGER funding, the port received $17 million from the $511 million pot. In addition, the project receivesome $27 million from Prop 1B funds, otherwise known as the Trade Corridor Improvement Fund.
The advertised point of the project is two-fold: to reduce traffic congestion amongst the rails leaving the port–the much larger focus–and to decrease pollution.
Currently, there is an infamous bottleneck of rail traffic where Ocean Boulevard meets the 710: three railways leaving the port immediately converge into two. The project will create a new six-mile span of track that will open up the bottleneck so each track can run without convergence.
Furthermore–and most likely more important to the business of POLB–a new Pier F rail support yard will be created to support the to-be-completed $1.2 billion Middle Harbor terminal. This terminal converges two aging terminals, E and F, into one large complex that is expected to handle some 2 million additional containers.
About 15% of the nation’s waterborne containers go through the Alameda Corridor rail line and the hope with the project on the environmental side is to increase “on-dock” railing–that is, having port workers move containers directly from ships to trains instead of using supposedly less environmentally-sound trucks in between, thereby reducing air pollution. It is estimated that some 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be eliminated over 20 years while 2.3 million truck trips will become eradicated.