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BNSF plans to drop intermodal rail facility near ports of LA and Long Beach in US

BNSF Railway is planning to cancel plans to build a new intermodal rail facility near the ports of Los Angeles (LA) and Long Beach, US.

The move follows after a California court’s recent ruling that questioned the adequacy of the environmental review process for the project.

The proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project was designed to eliminate millions of truck miles from the 710 Freeway each year.

BNSF executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Steve Bobb said: “After a thorough review of the ruling, BNSF is troubled by what the decision represents and uncertain whether moving forward with the project is feasible at this time.

“We will confer with Port of Los Angeles officials, but it is not clear whether or how the project could be built under the framework set by the decision.”

The ruling against the SCIG project called into question the analysis of air quality, greenhouse gas, noise and traffic impacts and halted project progress until the Port of Los Angeles performs another analysis.

The decision comes just before California’s legislature voted to enact the highest minimum wage in the country, since SCIG would provide family-wage jobs with a solid career path.

Bobb further noted: “With this decision, California sends a clear signal to companies interested in investing in the state that their business isn’t welcome, regardless of how green it will be or how it will support the regional and state economy.

“It sets a chilling precedent for not only the rail industry, but the entire goods movement sector, which employs more than a million Californians.”

BNSF noted that the eight-year environmental review was exhaustive, with a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), Recirculated Draft EIR and Final EIR totaling more than 5,000 pages and an administrative record of more than 200,000 pages.

In its ruling, the court acknowledged that ‘a great deal of careful thought has been given to the environmental impacts of the project.’

According to BNSF, it was ready to invest $500m in the regional economy with this facility, including $100m in green technologies such as electric cranes, ultra-low emission locomotives and solar energy.

The SCIG would be located on an existing industrial site between the Terminal Island Freeway, Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway with direct access to the Alameda Corridor.

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