Environmental approval for Southern California International Gateway project

Environmental approval for Southern California International Gateway project
The proposed SCIG intermodal railyard

The near-dock rail container transfer facility represents a private investment of more than US$500m by BNSF which plans to develop and operate the nation’s greenest intermodal rail yard on a 185 acre (75ha) site approximately four miles (6.5kms) north of the San Pedro Bay port complex.

SCIG will reduce truck traffic, freeway congestion and air pollution by eliminating approximately 1.3m truck trips annually along a 24-mile stretch of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to BNSF’s Hobart Yard near downtown Los Angeles.

“SCIG will be the cleanest rail facility in history”, said Matthew Rose, BNSF’s chairman and CEO. “It will set a new standard for green technology and change the status quo for how trucking companies serve railyards, while reducing traffic and improving air quality.

Noting that the project will show the entire world that the San Pedro ports (Los Angeles and Long Beach) are committed to competitiveness against an expanded Panama Canal, Rose said BNSF is looking forward to the project’s approval by the Los Angeles City Council. The intention is for construction to begin later this year with completion scheduled for 2016 with SCIG expected to generate up to 1,096 long-term jobs at full capacity.

Initially, SCIG is expected to handle around 570,800 teu/year but by 2035 this is expected to rise to a maximum of 2.8m teu.

As a hub for building trains bound for specific destinations throughout the country, SCIG will offer shippers, carriers and terminal operators expanded Class 1 railroad options for getting products to consumers more competitively and efficiently. High-tech logistics systems will maximise trucking operations by reducing turn times, one-way trips and emissions.

Construction and operation of the SCIG facility will be subject to stringent environmental controls including:

  • SCIG using only the cleanest available switching and long-haul locomotives and phase in the future generation of Tier 4 locomotives when the equipment becomes commercially available
  • SCIG deploying all electric-powered rail mounted gantry cranes and low-emissions yard equipment to handle cargo
  • All trucks serving SCIG must meet or exceed 2007 federal on-road low-emission engine standards, and 90% of the drayage fleet must be LNG-fuelled or meet equivalent emissions standards by 2026
  • Trucks must use designated routes to avoid residential neighbourhoods and will be monitored by GPS units as a condition of all drayage contracts
  • BNSF will match port contributions of up to US$3m to advance the commercial development of zero emissions technologies that eliminate air pollution from port-related operations
  • SCIG will use low-glare lighting, intensive landscaping and automation to maximize productivity while minimising operational impacts on neighbouring communities

The Port would track and enforce environmental controls through a combination of project conditions, mitigation measures and lease requirements identified in the final EIR. The requirements will be incorporated into the terms of a 50-year lease.