Long Beach gets US$283 million for port rail and seeks more backers

Caption: © Port of Long Beach

Congestion in the hinterland should be a thing of the past: The port of Long Beach, together with Los Angeles the most important container hub in the USA, is receiving extensive funding from the Biden administration to expand its rail infrastructure.

In the past, Long Beach and other ports in the USA have repeatedly experienced massive delays when roads have become congested and cargoes can no longer be transported to the hinterland in a structured manner.

For this reason, and in order to reduce pollutant emissions, Long Beach is focusing on a comprehensive modernization program: “America’s Green Gateway”. The federal government in Washington has now approved funding of US$283 million for a prestigious project.

“America’s Green Gateway” is a rail project designed to enable Long Beach, one of the busiest seaports in the country, to move more cargo by train, “which will expedite deliveries throughout the national supply chain, reduce traffic congestion and reduce local environmental impacts,” according to the port.

Funding for the port’s Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The US$1.567 billion project is considered the centrepiece of the Port’s rail improvements.

When the new facility opens, “trucks will stop coming. Instead, smaller train segments will be brought to the facility and assembled into a full-size train,” the port continued.

“Reliable and efficient freight transportation is critical to keeping our economy thriving while protecting the air we breathe,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin emphasized, “This mega grant – which follows California’s US$158.4 million grant for the Pier B On Dock Rail project as part of a historic investment in supply chain infrastructure earlier this year – shows the power that Governor Newsom and President Biden’s infrastructure packages can have when they work together.”

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson said, “The Pier B Rail project represents an important infrastructure investment that will improve the sustainability and efficiency of the Port of Long Beach by allowing us to add up to 35% rail capacity at our terminals.”

Long Beach seeks additional financial partners

Due to the importance of the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility to the national supply chain, the Port continues to seek funding partners for the project. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced a US$158 million grant from the Port and Freight Infrastructure Program in July 2023. The federal government had previously approved nearly US$105 million. To date, the port has received more than US$640 million in funding for Pier B.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year. The new facility will more than double the size of the existing Pier B marshalling yard from 82 to 171 hectares and more than triple the volume of rail freight handled annually in the port from 1.5 million TEU to 4.7 million TEU. By way of comparison, the Port of Hamburg, which has excellent rail connections, accounted for 50.5% of hinterland traffic last year. With 2.7 million TEU, rail was the most important mode of transport for the hinterland.

The marshalling yard in Long Beach will also have a depot where up to 30 locomotives can be refuelled and serviced simultaneously, as well as a full staging area where trains up to 10,000 feet long can be assembled and disassembled. The entire project is being built in several phases.

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