To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at email@example.com
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Los Angeles Harbor Commission to vote on embattled BNSF railyard project
By Karen Robes Meeks and Brian Sumers, March 2, 2013
Vanessa Bacon, Ashley Hernandez,
Alyssa Alvarez joins other protesters against the the Southern
California International Gateway (SCIG) Project in Wilmington, Calif. on
October 18, 2012. The SCIG involves the construction and operation of a
railyard between Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway along
Los Angeles harbor leaders this
week will decide whether to endorse the environmental impact report of a
controversial $500 million railyard that could support rising cargo
demands but also abuts neighborhoods in West Long Beach and Wilmington.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Los Angeles Board of
Harbor Commissioners meeting on Thursday, when the board is expected to
vote on the final EIR of the 153-acre Southern California International
Gateway railyard project being proposed by BNSF Railway.
The proposed facility, to be located in an industrial area bounded by
Sepulveda Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway, the Terminal Island Freeway
and the Dominguez Channel, would allow trucks to load containers and
put them on trains closer to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles,
rather than having trucks drive 24 miles away to another facility in
downtown Los Angeles.
But health and environmental groups and residents in the area say the
project will worsen traffic and health problems already affecting the
neighborhoods. The project, which was proposed in 2005, is in proximity
of several schools and parks, including the Villages at Cabrillo, a Long
Beach transitional housing facility for homeless veterans, families and
Long Beach Councilman James Johnson, whose 7 th District includes the
affected neighborhoods, said the city of Los Angeles and the Port of
Los Angeles "made no good faith effort to meet the needs of Long Beach communities."
"This is a textbook case of environmental injustice, where you take a
mostly minority, working-class community that already has some of the
worst air quality in the United States and you add pollution to that
neighborhood," Johnson said. "I think it's just wrong."
Proponents, including the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said
the project will use green technology at the facility and help remove
1.5 million trucks annually from the Long Beach (710) Freeway.
BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said that the railroad's decision to move
forward on the project has been the result of several years of meetings
with hundreds of community members and business leaders.
"BNSF believes that we have proposed a project that not only meets
the current and anticipated containerized cargo demands at the San Pedro
Bay Ports, but will also create 'greener' capacity for the ports to
grow and to continue to be a source of even more good paying jobs for
the Southern California economy," Kent said in an emailed statement.
Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino, whose 15 th District
includes San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway, said he
supports the project. He said he is especially pleased it will encourage
private investment and create tens of thousands of new jobs. He also
said the port needs the railyard to ensure it remains competitive with
others in North America.
"This has been eight years in the making," Buscaino said. "The time
is now. I think we have hashed out all the concerns the port has had and
the community has had. We cannot delay."
Representatives of both ports have said the ports aren't taking an
official position on the project, though the decision lies in the hands
of the Los Angeles harbor commissioners.
Kat Madrigal, a Wilmington resident and the development and
communications coordinator for East Yard Communities for Environmental
Justice, said proponents of the project are being short-sighted. She
said her group plans to mobilize at least 100 people to attend
Thursday's meeting and speak out against the railyard.
She said the project might actually increase pollution locally, especially for low-income residents living near the port.
"We believe that it is important that the community both in
Wilmington and in Long Beach don't want this railyard," Madrigal said.
"The commissioners should be held accountable to the community. This is
not something the community sees as a community improvement project."