Three years ago, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project, a near-dock rail facility proposed by BNSF Railway. This $500 million project to move goods more efficiently, lower emissions and reduce thousands of truck miles from our congested freeways is vital to our logistics sector, our economy and our environment.
Today, we are no closer to moving forward on this transformative project. After government approvals, opponents sued under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to challenge the project's environmental impact report. The document, prepared over a decade to design a new rail yard that would enable trucks to travel four miles, instead of the current 24 miles, and take 1.5 million trucks off our freeways, was ruled by a judge to be inadequate.
This ruling was a disappointment to project proponents like the Chamber that applauded BNSF's plan to invest more than $100 million in the newest clean technology to create the greenest intermodal facility in the United States. Thus it was heartening last week when BNSF and the City of L.A. filed an appeal to fight for the project.
At a time when our region is losing out on federal funds for freight-movement, we cannot afford to chase away the best green technology in the world intended to maintain our competitive edge, lower emissions, reduce congestion and keep thousands of good-paying jobs. I applaud the City and BNSF for their continued commitment to bringing SCIG to fruition.
If SCIG is prevented from moving forward, California will chase away private investment in our goods movement infrastructure at a time when we are faced with increased competition from Canadian, Mexican and east coast ports.
In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown, recognizing that freight-dependent industries account for more than $700 billion in revenue and 5 million jobs in California, issued an Executive Order to improve freight efficiency and transition to cleaner technologies. I cannot think of a project that embodies those goals better than the Southern California International Gateway project.
And that's The Business Perspective.
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