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 pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, February 20, 2015

LA’s Ports: More to Fear Than a Work Stoppage


By Kay Martin, February 20, 2015


 As you read this, shipping bound for the US is anchored and rotting off our coast.

LEANING RIGHT-Mexico's government is preparing the largest infrastructure project in the nation's history, a $4-billion seaport at Punta Colonet that could transform this farming village into a cargo hub to rival the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. 

If completed as planned the port will be the linchpin of a new shipping route linking the Pacific Ocean to America's heartland. Vessels bearing shipping containers from Asia would offload them on Mexico's Baja peninsula, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, where they would be whisked over newly constructed rail lines to the United States. 

The trucking and shipping will be done by Mexican contractors. 

"All the major players …  they'll be here," said a confident Rodriguez Arregui, who is overseeing the selection process. 

The prospect of billionaires duking it out over this remote stretch of Baja underscores just how lucrative the movement of goods between Asia and North America has become. About 30 million containers crossed the Pacific last year, a flow that had been increasing by about 10% annually for more than a decade until recently. And, though transpacific trade has slowed because of weakness in the U.S. economy, experts said those figures would continue to grow over time. 

With the West Coast's largest port complex, LA-Long Beach, constrained by urban development and environmental regulations and endless labor issues,  shippers are searching for alternatives. 

Punta Colonet has emerged as an attractive option. It's close to the United States. It possesses a wide, natural harbor. And it's located in a rural, lightly populated area offering almost unlimited room for expansion. 

"In the long run … it could get to the size of Long Beach-LA," which last year handled 15.7 million containers combined. "Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest green-field projects ever to be done" in the industry. 

The plan is nothing if not ambitious. Punta Colonet would be the first major seaport built in North America in nearly a century. When completed, the port will be the linchpin of a new shipping route linking the Pacific Ocean to America's heartland. Vessels bearing shipping containers from Asia would offload them here on Mexico's Baja peninsula, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, where they would be whisked over newly constructed rail lines to the United States. 

Panama is also in the midst of a $5.3-billion expansion of its landmark canal. Canada, whose coast is the shortest sailing distance from Asia, is looking to capitalize on that advantage with $3 billion in port and rail improvements to speed cargo to the United States. 

Panama is in the midst of a $5.3-billion expansion of its landmark canal. Canada, whose coast is the shortest sailing distance from Asia, is looking to capitalize on that advantage with $3 billion in port and rail improvements to speed cargo to the United States. 

The enlarging of the Panama Canal will allow any ship in the world to use it. 

Ports along the West, East and Gulf coasts of the U.S. have begun their own upgrades. So has Mexico's own Puerto Lazaro Cardenas on the Pacific Coast of the state of Michoacan. 

Right now Southern California is in a ‘chicken little’ mode and nothing getting done other than report generation will result in nothing accomplished. This in turn will result in the loss of millions of dollars worth of business and of thousands of jobs. 

The west coast of the United States has finally done something to counter these threats from Mexico and Panama. 

Wait just a minute. We have finally done something. We have shut down all US west coast ports.

1 in 5 riders face unwanted sexual behavior on L.A. Metro, survey says


50 Years After a Highway Revolt, a Quiet Surrender


By Angie Schmitt, February 20, 2015

Can cities that won highway fights two generations ago still defeat destructive road projects today?

Interstate 90 through near east Cleveland. Image: Green City Blue Lake
Interstate 90 through near east Cleveland.

Marc Lefkowitz at Green City Blue Lake is looking back at Cleveland’s history of highway revolts. In the late 1960s, the city successfully beat back a proposal — the “East Side Highway” – that would have obliterated neighborhoods. Now, all these decades later, Cleveland is actually moving ahead with a watered-down version of that same road, repackaged as the $331 million “Opportunity Corridor.”

Lefkowitz says at another time in the city’s history there was a whole resistance effort to preserve urban communities and green spaces:
There was, perhaps, more general acceptance in Cleveland that serving the least able might mean taking on the most powerful.

Then Cleveland Planning Director, Norm Krumholtz, helped in the fight to turn back powerful interests that wanted to build a network of highways slicing through the east side of the city and the suburbs of Shaker and Cleveland Heights. In his book, “Making Equity Planning Work” Krumholtz tells of how, in 1969, NOACA voted for an east side highway that would start at E. 55th and cut east through densely populated, lower income black neighborhoods. He was asked by Mayor Carl B. Stokes to come up with a strategy to rescind that vote.

“I could find nothing to suggest that the Cleveland City Planning Commission had been anything but supportive of all NOACA’s highway plans,” Krumholtz writes. “We had made no effort to define the proposed freeway as a problem—a project that would destroy neighborhoods, reduce the supply of affordable housing available to Cleveland’s low-income populations, and deepen racial isolation and the city’s fiscal problems. (City staff) looked at it in terms of highway engineering criteria—as an ‘improvement’ to the regional traffic flow.”

Under Krumholtz, city planning developed an estimate of the costs to the city of the highways, including the local share of the building costs, loss of jobs, loss of housing, loss of income tax. And they used the numbers in their presentations that opposed the highways.

It may take some imagination to picture the city acting so forcefully to oppose an urban highway project, but remember that the urban sections of I-90 and I-77 had just been built and the city neighborhoods were still smoldering from the big, gaping paved hole it tore through them. Perhaps a generation later, the highways that were built have spread leadership around the region and made no one place, but particularly the established communities, less the center.

Cleveland sued NOACA for better representation on its board and threatened to withdraw its dues until the I-290, which includes the western portion of today’s Opportunity Corridor, was taken off the table.
Today, the Opportunity Corridor is moving forward, encountering little of the opposition in earlier generations. Lefkowitz asks: “What has changed about who decides when new roads are needed and where they will go into communities?”

Elsewhere on the Network today: ATL Urbanist reports that early ridership numbers on the Atlanta streetcar are underwhelming, and offers recommendations to improve the usefulness of the route. The Urbanophile says a certain type of powerful suburb is undergoing a transformation that will make it slightly more urban, in response to competitive demands. And 1000 Friends of Wisconsin says the Cheese State has utterly failed to make the case for its $850 million I-94 expansion project.

Addressing Health Concerns Over the 710 Freeway Corridor


By Felix Aguilar, MD, and Don Anair, February 19, 2015


 710 Freeway

This is part of a series examining the 710 Corridor and its impact in the surrounding communities, produced in partnership with the California Endowment.

The I-710 Corridor Project, considered the largest infrastructure project in the nation, is a modernization of the freeway stretching from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the 60 Freeway. With the expanding global economy and growing impact of truck traffic on an aging freeway system, the need to improve existing infrastructure is crucial. While data has shown high levels of air toxins along the 710 that have been linked to various health problems, efforts are under way to reduce emissions and air pollution in the 710 corridor, the latest being a zero-emissions demonstration project that would test an overhead electrical catenary system, similar to a trolly for electric and hybrid trucks, for a small section of the 710 Freeway.

While planners are seeking community engagement throughout the planning process, community organizations are also taking it upon themselves to ensure that their voices are heard. Below, we hear from a health professional and an engineer with real concerns about the health impact of the I-710 Corridor:

A 12-year-old boy named Jimmy came to see me at a community clinic in southeast Los Angeles after falling at school. While taking his health history, I discovered that he was diagnosed with asthma at age 5. His mother mentioned that Jimmy is unable to play a full game of soccer because of his asthma; and when I listened to his lungs, I noticed poor air movement. Jimmy told me that he suffers frequent asthma attacks, which sometimes causes him to miss school. However, neither Jimmy nor his mother seemed very surprised about the school absences or his inability to be fully active.

That's because asthma has become a regular part of life for many in the disadvantaged communities where I practice medicine. According to the Department of Public Health, one in 11 children in Los Angeles County have asthma. African-American children have the highest rates of asthma (25 percent) compared to Hispanic children (8 percent) and non-Hispanic white children (7 percent).

Jimmy lives close to the 710 Freeway, a major transportation corridor for moving goods from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Air pollution from this freeway is a major contributor to asthma in Southeast Los Angeles; and children are most vulnerable. When Jimmy plays soccer on a field near the freeway, he is forced to inhale the exhaust fumes from the trucks rolling by.

'Modernizing California's Freight System' by Union of Concerned Scientists

Currently, Californians depend on trucks, trains and ships powered primarily by diesel fuel to deliver our food and merchandise. But the freight sector is California's largest single source of ozone-causing nitrogen oxide emissions and diesel particulate pollution. Movement of freight is also a major contributor to climate change, including emissions of carbon dioxide and black carbon.

Low-income communities experience the health impacts of industrial freight activity the most by being forced to breathe diesel exhaust on a daily basis in their own neighborhoods adjacent to highways, ports and rail yards.

As a physician, I look at the prevalence of a disease and seek ways to prevent it. That's why I believe medical professionals need to work closely with scientists and policymakers to battle pollution. Solutions exist to overhaul today's conventional freight vehicles into a low-carbon transportation system that cleans our air, improves our public health and helps us meet our climate goals.

According to a report released last year by the Union of Concerned Scientists and others, cleaner freight alternatives would reduce emissions well beyond today's cleanest diesel and natural gas trucks. More efficient engines, advanced emission controls and cleaner fuels can make conventionally powered trucks, trains and ships less polluting. Powering short-haul trucks with clean electricity would benefit regional air quality by dramatically reducing tailpipe emissions in communities most affected by truck traffic. For regional trips, moving goods by train and ship using the cleanest engine technologies would reduce emissions compared to today's cleanest diesel trucks, though any move toward greater rail or ship use must ensure the health of communities surrounding rail yards and ports.

Existing state policies -- particularly for freight transportation -- are insufficient to meet upcoming federal air-quality deadlines.  An analysis by state and regional air-quality officials shows that we need about a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions in some parts of the state -- including Los Angeles--to reach air-quality standards over the next two decades.

Source: 'Moving California Forward' by California Cleaner Freight Coalition

We urge Gov. Brown, the California Air Resources Board, and other state agencies to take all necessary action to transition to a more efficient freight system, one that relies on the cleanest alternatives. Given the scope of the challenge, a broad approach is needed to tackling freight pollution, including new regulations, expanded incentive programs, and a commitment to ensuring that new transportation projects cut pollution -- not increase it. For example, planned upgrades to the 710 Freeway could include a mandatory zero-emission freight corridor for heavy-duty trucks.
Transforming our freight system will provide cleaner air, a safer climate, and improved health for all of its communities. When that happens, Jimmy and the rest of us will breathe easier.