By Steve Scauzillo, July 11, 2016
An aerial view of the Port of Long Beach, Downtown Long Beach, and The Queen Mary as seen in 2011.
Southern California transportation agencies were shocked Monday to
learn they were getting zero dollars from the federal Department of
Transportation in the first round of a newly approved freight-movement
Instead, the DOT gave out $759 million for 18 projects from Seattle to Louisiana but nothing for projects located within the six Southern California counties.
grant applications from the port of Long Beach and the Alameda
Corridor-East Construction Authority were denied, several sources
confirmed. The Port of LA had one project denied, a $35 million
zero-emissions cranes project.
“I think it is a shock because this is an area where you would
expect a lot of that money to come in,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive
director of the Southern California Association of Governments.
2015 regional transportation plan identified $75 billion in projects,
including adding truck lanes to the 60 Freeway, improving the
interchange at the 57/60 freeways in Diamond Bar and building grade
separations allowing trains to travel freely on bridges over cars and
The Port of Long Beach applied for two rail extension
projects, one an intermodal rail yard in the new harbor terminal and the
other, called the Terminal Island Wye, in a different part of the port.
Both were denied, said Lee Peterson, spokesman. These would have
allowed more direct container-to-rail processing, cutting back on truck
trips and reducing air pollution. “We’ll try again next year,” he said.
A proposed $142 million railroad underpass in Montebello was
denied $35 million in federal funding, while a $78.4 million Durfee
Avenue Grade Separation project in Pico Rivera lost out on $25 million
in funding, explained Paul Hubler, director of government and community
relations at ACE. The two projects have local funding but need federal
dollars to start construction, he said.
SCAG said it was working
with various agencies in Southern California to submit new applications
for the 2017 funding allocation of the Fostering Advancements in
Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National
Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program, which will distribute about $5 billion
for freight-related projects over five years.
Southern California’s twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles
carried 117 million metric tons of goods in 2014 for a value of $396
billion, according to SCAG. Most of the goods from the ports are
transported by trucks along congested freeways. SCAG estimated Southern
California has 70,000 lane miles or roadways with the 710, 605, 60, and
91 freeways carrying the highest volumes of truck traffic in the region,
averaging about 25,000 trucks per day in 2013.
To not move
forward with projects that cut back on truck trips carrying goods from
the ports seems like a mistake, SCAG officials said.
“This shows a huge need for freight infrastructure here,” said Sharon
Neely, a transportation consultant for SCAG. “We are certainly
surprised and disappointed that Southern California did not receive a
The DOT received 212 applications for projects totaling
$9.8 billion, “more than 10 times the available funding,” said Clark
Pettig in an email. The DOT awarded projects that would have
“significant regional and national impacts by reducing congestion,
expanding capacity, using innovative technology, improving safety, or
moving freight more efficiently,” wrote Pettig.
The ports of Boston; Coos Bay, Ore.; Savannah, Georgia; New York
and Portland, Maine received funding. Two grade separations projects in
Washington state received awards.
Congress has two months to review the 2016 FASTLANE grants before the project grants are approved, Pettig wrote.