Friday, March 08, 2013

Los Angeles Harbor Commission advances BNSF "benchmark" rail yard

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A rendering of the SCIG. A rendering of the SCIG. The Port of Los Angeles

BNSF's planned $500-million Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) moves a step closer to reality with the Los Angeles Harbor Commission's certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).

The Port of Los Angeles is the nation's busiest harbor complex and the near-dock rail container transfer facility would increase the efficiency and competitiveness of moving containerized cargo to the U.S. and global markets.

BNSF plans to develop and operate what is called the nation's greenest intermodal rail yard on a 185-acre site approximately four miles north of the San Pedro Bay port complex.

The Harbor Commission's action sets the stage for construction of the state-of-the-art intermodal rail facility to begin later this year. Initially, SCIG is expected to handle approximately 570,800 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units or 20-foot containers). By 2035, SCIG is projected to handle a maximum of 2.8 million TEUs.

BNSF called the action a significant vote for both a greener environment and jobs.

"The Commissioners' vote today validates that building SCIG is the right choice for green growth in Los Angeles and will be a new environmental model for the rest of the country," said Matthew Rose, chairman and CEO of BNSF. "We appreciate all the support today from a wide range of stakeholders and stand ready to invest $500 million to build this state-of-the-art facility and bring jobs, air quality and traffic benefits to Southern California while helping keep the San Pedro ports competitive."

In addition to removing trucks along the 710 Freeway, BNSF says the new intermodal facility will become a benchmark for future facilities in California. SCIG will feature wide-span all-electric cranes, ultra-low emission switching locomotives and low-emission rail yard equipment. BNSF has also committed to allowing only trucks meeting the Port's Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goal of 2010 or newer trucks to transport cargo between the marine terminals and the facility. By 2026, 90 percent of the truck fleet will be LNG or equivalent emissions vehicles. Trucks will be required to avoid residential areas by traveling on designated, industrial routes with GPS tracking to ensure compliance. BNSF has also agreed to contribute up to $3 million to the joint Port of Los Angeles-Port of Long Beach Technology Advancement Program to further the development of zero-emission goods-movement technologies.

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