Freight News, Sea

Port of Los Angeles advances $34 million on-dock rail yard expansion

[ November 5, 2018   //   ]

The Port of Los Angeles is moving forward with a major rail project that will optimize on-dock rail operations and improve the flow of cargo throughout the nation’s busiest harbor complex. The Terminal Island Railyard Enhancement Project will reduce truck trips, tailpipe emissions and congestion on local streets and freeways, thereby improving roadway safety.

“Maximizing our rail network is vital to operating America’s cleanest, most competitive seaport,” said Harbor Commission President Jaime Lee. “The economic and environmental benefits extend to our customers, neighbors, regional transportation system and our nation. We appreciate the $21 million grant from the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program that will fund a significant portion of this project.”

“Expanding this rail yard creates a ripple effect of intermodal efficiencies within the Port of Los Angeles and throughout the entire San Pedro Bay port complex,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.  “It is a key element of regional and state transportation plans to improve safety and traffic conditions along some of our nation’s most crowded commuter and freight corridors.”

The $34 million project will be funded with a $21.6 million grant from the State Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1) -Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP), which funds improving freight corridors in California. The Port will fund the remaining cost of nearly $12.4 million.

The project will expand an existing intermodal rail storage yard on Terminal Island. More than 31,000 linear feet of track will be added to expand the number of storage tracks from six to 11. The project will increase capacity and use of the Pier 400 on-dock railyard by up to 525,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent units (TEUs) annually, which represents about a 10 percent overall increase in capacity for the Port of Los Angeles.

As a result of increasing on-dock capacity at Pier 400, the project will free up capacity at another major storage and staging yard located on Terminal Island, thus improving overall rail operations throughout the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  The project is a critical link between the San Pedro Bay port complex and the Alameda Corridor, which carries about 11 percent of all waterborne containers entering and exiting the United States.

The capacity and increase in use of the Pier 400 on-dock railyard will result in the shifting the same 525,000 TEUs annually from off-dock yards located between 11 and 27 miles away to on-dock facilities at the port, thus reducing truck trips on state highways and congressionally-approved National Highway Freight Network (NHFN)-Primary Highway Freight System (PHFS) routes, including I-710 and I-110.

As rail demand increases, the expanded rail yard is projected to eliminate an estimated 1,250 truck trips per day by 2040.  Shifting the amount of containers currently moved off-dock miles from the port to on-dock rail at the port complex is a key strategy of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) 2017 Update; the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan and the California Freight Mobility Plan.

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission formally approved the project’s Final Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration in early October, which concluded the environmental review process. The Port is currently preparing the final design. The construction contract award is expected by June 2020, with project completion by early 2022. More than 300 construction jobs are expected to be created during the course of the project.

The Terminal Island Railyard Enhancement Project is one of eight interrelated rail projects collectively known as America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Rail Project. The package consists of rail improvements within the harbor complex, including two at the Port of Los Angeles, and grade separation projects at critical junctures across Los Angeles County. The Port’s partner agencies are the Port of Long Beach, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Alameda Corridor – East Construction Authority.

In May, the California Transportation Commission awarded $128.6 million in TCEP funding to six of the eight projects. The Port of Los Angeles received grants for both its projects: the Terminal Island Railyard Enhancement Project and the Alameda Corridor Southern Terminus Gap Closure. The latter will add a double-track segment between the on-dock rail yards serving the TraPac and West Basin Containers terminals, creating a safer, more direct connection to the Alameda Corridor.

Both rail projects support California’s larger sustainable freight and mobility goals. They also meet federal and state grant requirements for major transportation projects to improve air quality, spur job growth, ease congestion and benefit disadvantaged and low-income communities.