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Port of Los Angeles rail system plan: Locals speak out

March 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
BNSF Railway has been pushing for a decade to build a rail system at the Port of Los Angeles to load containers from ships onto trains closer to the port.

But neighbors like Wynton Johnson, who lives 250 feet from the proposed site, say it would be a major health hazard and detrimental to the environment.

"We have high school students covering their faces while they're waiting for the bus to go home, because you can just see and taste the air," he said. "So for them to propose a project that is going to bring in more pollution is just outrageous."

And Bob Foster, the mayor of Long Beach, agrees. He participated in the nearly five hours of public comment Thursday.

"My community, Long Beach, loses 1000 jobs, gets 8200 truck trips a day, and has more noise pollution and more environmental pollution right in their neighborhoods," he said.

But supporters of the project say it actually creates jobs and improves the environment.

"The facility will be the greenest inter-modal facility in the entire country. We're spending $500 million in private investment, $100 million of that is on green technology. What the project reports have shown, is that it's actually a reduction of emissions in that surrounding area," said Lena Kent with BNSF Railway.

Some unions are also backing the project.

"I can see the controversy, because you'll be cutting down on a lot of the truckers' jobs and stuff like that by adding a railway system, but it will create a lot more jobs in the long run for the construction aspect of it, and it's just better all around for the environment," said Eric Wysong, an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Next, the proposal goes before the Los Angeles City Council. BNSF says they're working with a trucking company currently leasing the land, and hopes to start construction later this year.


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