A short while after publishing a critical article about the 710 Corridor Expansion Project, entitled “Metro sorcerers cast spells over 710 expansion” on August 6, 2012, I was contacted by a group working on an alternative that I think has some real merit.
The 710 Corridor Expansion Project is a plan to widen the existing 710 freeway and to add, potentially, a double decker truck-only freeway on top of it. The economic analysis done by the MTA (and their consultants) shows that this project will: hurt local air quality, make local traffic worse, and send any new growth outside of the boundaries of Los Angeles County. These findings were made assuming an astronomical amount of growth – yet even in their “best case” scenario, this project, to be built with borrowed funds, loses money for Los Angeles County while sending growth to San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Enter the GRID Project Super Dock.
The GRID Project is a plan to radically automate the unloading of boats at the ports and speed up and increase the number of trains leaving the ports loaded with that cargo. This sounds like an environmental catastrophe already … but! The trains are to be run on electricity, so no diesel death fumes, and they are going to be run underneath an existing power line right-of-way alongside the San Gabriel River.
The brilliance of this move is manifold. The ugly power lines can be brought underground with a tunnel serving the electric freight trains. This turns the land above the tunnels into property worth building on – which means that this project can turn … a … profit.
I have been studying transportation policy for so long that I can hardly believe it myself when I read it, but this is really what makes this project stand out to. Most of our transportation infrastructure in this county is a huge burden on our municipal budgets. These costs are never borne by the folks using them the most – truckers and private motorists. Imagine a freight option that would keep our ports cost-competitive in the post-Panama Canal widening era, would take polluting trucks and trains out of service, and would potentially pay for itself!
Give the GRID Project a chance to change your mind. The $15 to $23 billion that the railroads, shipping companies, Metro, and both ports are going to spend for naught on polluting, money losing, projects ought to instead go towards a much more worthy project.