Southern California gets a big, fat $0 from Feds for freight, road improvements: Southern California transportation agencies were shocked Monday to learn they were getting zero dollars from the federal Department of Transportation in the first round of a newly approved freight-movement grant program.
Instead, the DOT gave out $759 million for 18 projects from Seattle to Louisiana but nothing for projects located within the six Southern California counties.
Locally, grant applications from the port of Long Beach and the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority were denied, several sources confirmed. The Port of LA had one project denied, a $35 million zero-emissions cranes project.
“I think it is a shock because this is an area where you would expect a lot of that money to come in,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments. SCAG’s 2015 regional transportation plan identified $75 billion in projects, including adding truck lanes to the 60 Freeway, improving the interchange at the 57/60 freeways in Diamond Bar and building grade separations allowing trains to travel freely on bridges over cars and trucks.
The Port of Long Beach applied for two rail extension projects, one an intermodal rail yard in the new harbor terminal and the other, called the Terminal Island Wye, in a different part of the port. Both were denied, said Lee Peterson, spokesman. These would have allowed more direct container-to-rail processing, cutting back on truck trips and reducing air pollution. “We’ll try again next year,” he said.
A proposed $142 million railroad underpass in Montebello was denied $35 million in federal funding, while a $78.4 million Durfee Avenue Grade Separation project in Pico Rivera lost out on $25 million in funding, explained Paul Hubler, director of government and community relations at ACE. The two projects have local funding but need federal dollars to start construction, he said.
SCAG said it was working with various agencies in Southern California to submit new applications for the 2017 funding allocation of the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program, which will distribute about $5 billion for freight-related projects over five years.
Southern California’s twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles carried 117 million metric tons of goods in 2014 for a value of $396 billion, according to SCAG. Most of the goods from the ports are transported by trucks along congested freeways. SCAG estimated Southern California has 70,000 lane miles or roadways with the 710, 605, 60, and 91 freeways carrying the highest volumes of truck traffic in the region, averaging about 25,000 trucks per day in 2013.
To not move forward with projects that cut back on truck trips carrying goods from the ports seems like a mistake, SCAG officials said.
“This shows a huge need for freight infrastructure here,” said Sharon Neely, a transportation consultant for SCAG. “We are certainly surprised and disappointed that Southern California did not receive a grant.”
Mod: For a regional planning organization it is failure written in red. Getting government money is the reason they exist. Being completely shut out like this is just about as bad as it gets. Maybe the Feds would prefer that rather than using trains, all of that port freight should go through a certain tunnel? To read the rest click here.
Maybe SCAG Boss Hasan Ikhrata isn't being paid enough?
Then again, maybe he is.