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Los Angeles Headed to Mediation over Rail Yard Project

Monday, December 15, 2014

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The city of Los Angeles is headed to three days of mandatory mediation over a proposed rail yard project valued in excess of $500 million. The city was sued by a coalition including Long Beach City, school officials, and community groups, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The mediation is an attempt to settle the matter before it heads into court.


The plan by BNSF Railway involves a rail yard to be built on 153 acres of port property, known as the Southern California International Gateway rail yard project, would service the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are the #1 and #2 busiest ports in the country, accounting for 40% of all imports into the United States.


However, the port area designated is very close to schools and other housing where children with asthma and disadvantaged citizens now live. Detractors of the project claim it would exacerbate illnesses and reduce quality of life for these people to unacceptable levels. BNSF and Los Angeles have countered that the project will actually improve air quality and living conditions, offer employment, and that it would include $100 million of environmental investment, such as zero-emission electric cranes.


A proposal for “buffering measures” to insulate surrounding communities from the rail yard spurred the new initiative to negotiation, and resulted directly in the agreement to mediate. The proposals already discussed include a landscaped barrier around the rail yard as well as a grant program to help homeowners and facilities install dual-paned windows that would reduce noise and air pollution.

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