3:45pm | The four-member panel that makes up the Joint Powers Authority heard from fifteen public speakers opposing a proposed expansion to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) railyard during a community meeting Tuesday night.
The JPA did not make a decision on the project, largely because delays have kept it from moving forward. In fact, little has progressed since the last JPA meeting in October 2009. Project managers predicted that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be released sometime in early 2011, and they announced that the report for the ICTF will be produced alongside a similar study for the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) expansion project nearby.
The ICTF facility is run by the Union Pacific railroad company, while SCIG is run by the BNSF railroad company.
But the lack of new information didn't stop local residents from voicing their concerns, several through the use of a translator. Mothers cited the effects of increased air pollution on their children, and teachers complained of students suffering from asthma.
Representatives from Union Pacific say that more efficient equipment and decreased use of diesel will reduce pollution caused at the railyard by as much as 75-percent. The project also calls for removing more than sixty 100-foot tall lighting structures and replacing them with smaller ones, to keep from bothering community residents at night. Once fully approved, construction on the project is expected to take about three or four years to complete.
What is known for sure is that the ICTF expansion aims to double the cargo handling capacity at the facility to more than 1.5 million containers per year. Residents are weary of what this means for the increased amount of trucks and trains that will operate at the facility, and the additional pollution they will create.
"I think there is a sense of frustration when people come to these meetings," said Dick Steinke, member of the JPA and executive director of the Port of Long Beach. "It's part of a process that I think is good."
Other members of the JPA include Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Nick Sramek, Port of Los Angeles executive director Geraldine Knatz and Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner Cindy Miscikowski. During the meeting, Miscikowski was elected to a one-year term as President of the JPA.
Meeting organizers also said that in the future they may be able to provide Spanish translation to the crowd through the use of headphones. A date for the next JPA meeting was not announced.