So what’s an ICTF, you ask? This abbreviation stands for the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, a site that’s been moving port cargo containers from trucks to trains (and vice versa) since the 1980’s. It’s located just outside the western edge of Long Beach. You can see its tracks and lights stretching away from the 405 freeway if you look to the south about a mile west of the 710 interchange (but if you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road, please!).
The ICTF is governed by a Joint Powers Authority, or JPA, which includes two representatives each from the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. It’s thus a public facility, though it is operated by Union Pacific, a private railroad, which pays per-container fees to the JPA. These fees help repay bonds issued to pay the original construction cost of over $55 million.
What’s new at the ICTF is that there is a project to increase the site’s capacity for handling cargo, while at the same time reducing its physical footprint and substantially reducing its emissions through modernization of equipment – for example, electrification of the facility’s cranes. The ICTF JPA earlier this month released a Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report to assess these facility modifications. On Wednesday, February 11th between 6 and 9 p.m. there will be a scoping meeting at Stephens Middle School in Long Beach. I’ve written about scoping before, and will just remind readers that it’s a key opportunity to ask the JPA to consider issues that matter to you in the environmental analysis. You have until Wednesday, February 25th to send in written comments.
I had the chance to visit the ICTF a couple of years ago while attending the Faster Freight, Cleaner Air conference in Long Beach. We were able to tour a “genset” locomotive, a new, low-emitting design for switcher locomotives (the ones that operate inside railyards). In it, the standard diesel-electric locomotive engine is replaced with a series of three truck-type engines, which are activated only as needed to meet power demand. These truck-style engines are also able to take advantage of more proven technologies to reduce emissions, compared to those tested and approved for use on locomotives.
I see that the ICTF has recently updated and expanded its web site, and I encourage you to visit for more information. For example, this page on environmental matters contains several links to documents that may be of interest. The California Air Resources Board has been conducting health risk assessments (HRA) of emissions from rail facilities all over the state, and the ICTF’s HRA report is accessible from this page. More recently, the railroad has developed a diesel particulate mitigation plan that would be accomplished through the planned modernization project. The ICTF web site also includes plenty of interesting operating information, as well as a section explaining the current project. I hope you check it out!