As the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on California Ports, I read Jerry Epstein's article slamming the Southern Pacific railway ("A Robbery From Downtown to the Sea," Commentary, April 28) with mixed feelings.
In his article, Epstein acknowledged that the corridor is "perhaps the most important unfunded infrastructure project in Southern California." On April 8, when he testified on the project, he said straight out that "the Alameda Corridor is critical, not just to the local and regional economy, but to the state as a whole."
I happen to agree. Our twin ports are second only to New York as the busiest in the world. But if we can't put freight onto rail cars and move goods into the marketplace, our ports will wither.
Southern Pacific officials held a tough line in the buy-out talks for their 20 miles of rights of way. Nobody's happy at having to pay $275 million for this land, but I'm glad that the talks are behind us.
Epstein is right when he says that the Alameda Corridor has not received the attention that it deserves. Instead of throwing rocks at the next Southern Pacific freight train, though, we should focus on the business climate for our ports. The deal is done and now it's time to really get the Alameda Corridor on track.
BETTY KARNETTE, Assembly, D-Long Beach