LONG BEACH, Calif. — Demonstrating the importance of intermodal rail to Southern California, the Port of Long Beach on Tuesday broke ground on an $84 million project to add tracks and a support yard for on-dock rail operations.
Chris Lytle, executive director, said Long Beach in the coming decade will spend more than $1 billion on rail projects that will improve traffic flow and expand rail capacity. About 30 to 35 percent of the port’s container volume will be handled at on-dock rail facilities.
Labeled the Green Port Gateway project because it will reduce harmful diesel emissions by eliminating thousands of truck trips a year, the project will add access tracks to the port’s southeastern marine terminals and will allow the railroads to build full unit trains in the harbor.
U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator David Matsuda, who spoke at the ground-breaking ceremonies, noted that the rail project was funded in part by a $17 million federal TIGER grant.
The rail project will result in infrastructure development that Long Beach needs as vessel sizes increase and cargo volumes grow, Matsuda said. It will help to reduce traffic congestion while increasing cargo-handling capacity and improving air quality. “That’s a good investment for a TIGER grant,” he said.
Funding was also provided by the California Proposition 1B transportation program and by the port. U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Cal., said the rail project represents the type of local, state and federal collaboration that is important today in developing port and overland infrastructure.
The rail project will result in the addition of 29,000 feet of track and rail support infrastructure to serve Pier G, Pier J and the MiddleHarbor container terminals. MiddleHarbor, which is now under construction, will have an annual throughput capacity of 3 million 20-foot containers, and will cost more than $1 billion.
Lytle said Long Beach’s capital expenditures for infrastructure in the coming decade will total $4.5 billion, which is more than any other U.S. port. Long Beach will do what is necessary to keep up with the ever-increasing size of container ships being deployed in the trans-Pacific trade, he said.