Southern California Edison Has ‘Rights-Of-Way’ Issues With BNSF Project
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
July 31, 2012 – Southern California Edison (SCE) has some concerns with current plans for a major rail yard project being proposed on property that the public utility owns and operates, according to a comment letter SCE recently provided to the Business Journal.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway plans to build a new state-of-the-art intermodal rail yard facility on a 153-acre site in Wilmington, bordering Long Beach, Carson and Los Angeles. The project is being proposed as a way to ship containerized cargo on rail lines closer to port docks, effectively cutting down on truck trips and diesel emissions.
The Port of Los Angeles owns a majority of the property, a little more than 100 acres. However, about 33.5 acres of land where the new rail yard would operate is also owned by SCE, which leases property to two trucking and transloading companies: California Cartage Company, which also operates warehousing; and Three Rivers Trucking.
The February 1 letter, submitted in response to the port’s draft environmental impact report (EIR) on the project, raises concerns about potential impacts to SCE’s facilities and fee-owned properties, in addition to other rights-of-way, including SCE’s power lines, access to the company’s fee-owned rights-of-way and two current rights-of-way licenses with California Cartage and Three Rivers Trucking.
The letter, submitted by Ben Harvey, local public affairs region manager for SCE, states that “SCE fee-owned properties and other rights-of-way are purchased for the use of SCE to operate and maintain its present and future electric system facilities. Any proposed use of SCE properties, including encroachments and impacts to SCE’s access will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by appropriate SCE departments.
Also, the port’s EIR states that in order for the project to move forward, Three Rivers Trucking would have to be relocated by reconstructing a new location within SCE’s rights-of-way. But the document states that, “SCE’s operating policies do not allow the construction of permanent structures in its rights-of-way.” As a result, Three Rivers Trucking may have to relocate to a new site or “cease its operations.”
In addition, the port’s EIR indicates that California Cartage will have to also be relocated outside of SCE’s rights-of-way. However, California Cartage is being provided a new access point for trucks from Sepulveda Boulevard that will run through the new Three Rivers Trucking facility. The letter states, “SCE is concerned about the potential traffic impacts to SCE’s rights-of-way and the SCE’s operations if Three Rivers Trucking and California Cartage Company both use Sepulveda Boulevard as their primary access point.
The concerns raised are in addition to various other issues brought up and opposition from local cities about the project and the port’s EIR analysis. Of particular concern is that, if the port isn’t able to provide adequate relocation sites for impacted businesses, there may be a loss of about 1,200 existing jobs, many of which are filled by local residents. Local city staff has stated that the project as currently proposed would result in a “net loss” of jobs.
Lena Kent, spokesperson for BNSF, said she was unaware of the concerns brought up by SCE, but stated that the company would continue to meet with affected businesses about their concerns. “We’ve still been open to meeting and sitting down with various business owners in the area and have had a history of doing that throughout the whole process,” she said. Kent added that the port is likely to release a final EIR on the project in the fourth quarter of this year.
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