L.A. council considers controversial rail yard for harbor

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday morning will consider approving a controversial rail yard in the harbor that could improve the shipment of cargo but adversely affect nearby schools, parks and low-income communities.

The proposal to build a staging center for trains hauling freight from the largest harbor complex in the nation has raised questions about environmental justice, particularly for the adjacent poor and working-class neighborhoods of west Long Beach.

The planned Southern California International Gateway would be built by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. in Wilmington next to the Terminal Island Freeway, also known as California 103, between Sepulveda Boulevard and California 1 and east of Alameda Street.


The $500-million project would be capable of handling up to 2.8 million 20-foot shipping containers a year by 2035. About 8,200 trucks a day would call on the 153-acre site.

Supporters say the facility is needed to keep the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach competitive in light of the current widening of the Panama Canal, which could allow the largest container ships from Asia to bypass local harbors and deliver their goods to ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Railroad and harbor officials say the facility will be the greenest of its type in the nation and employ the cleanest diesel trucks, cranes, yard hostlers and locomotives available.

Truck traffic, they say, would be dramatically reduced on the Harbor Freeway and mitigation measures would cut noise, light and air pollution in nearby communities.

Opponents contend the project will increase adverse effects in neighborhoods that have already been seriously degraded by port operations. Research shows that residents in the area, particularly children, now have abnormally high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.


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