Frequently Asked Questions

Why does BNSF want to construct a new facility at the Port of Los Angeles?

Currently, much of the freight transported from the port to other destinations by rail must travel by truck to rail yards near downtown Los Angeles more than 24 miles away. A new intermodal facility within four miles of the ports will allow trucks loaded with cargo containers from ships to travel just a short distance before transferring the containers to rail cars that would then travel through the Alameda Corridor and on to destinations in the Midwest, Southeast and beyond.

Where will the facility be located?

Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) would be located on an existing industrial site between the Terminal Island Freeway, Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway with direct access to the Alameda Corridor.

bnsf area map

What are the benefits of this project?

By transferring cargo to rail closer to the port complex, the new facility will eliminate more than 1.5 million truck trips from the 710 freeway each year. SCIG will also use proven state-of-the-art and environmentally preferred technology, including electric cranes, ultra-low emissions switching locomotives, and low-emission yard equipment, while creating thousands of jobs.

What new job opportunities will SCIG create?

IHS Global Insight forecasts the facility will create 14,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Los Angeles and 22,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Southern California by 2036. During the construction phase approximately 1,500 jobs annually (direct and secondary) could be added to the regional economy.  BNSF is also in the final stages of negotiating a Project Labor Agreement with the Building Trades Council for the construction of the facility.
BNSF is committed to offering a jobs training program and giving priority to qualified local job applicants interested in new jobs at SCIG.

How will this benefit our economy?

SCIG will result in a $500 million investment in the Los Angeles metro region. In addition, aggregate wages and salaries during construction should reach over $39.4 million annually.  This equates to an average annual wage or salary for each worker related to proposed project (both direct and secondary) of $46,600 per year (2010 dollars). Overall, the construction of the project is estimated to contribute $57.6 million in federal taxes, $28.9 million in state and local taxes. Aggregate wages and salaries for facility personnel should reach more than $48 million in 2016 and increase to $80 million by 2046.  This equates to an average annual wage or salary for each worker related to the proposed Project (both direct and secondary) of approximately $73,500 per year in 2016.

What impact will this project have on the environment?

The Port of Los Angeles has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Report. The environmental review process evaluates what impacts, if any, the project will have on the environment. This process is guided by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This review requires that each project undergo a rigorous process to prove that it meets strict local and state guidelines to protect the well-being of the surrounding community.  The EIR shows that SCIG significantly reduces truck traffic, with corresponding improvements in congestion and emissions, and creates the greenest intermodal facility in the United States. 


How will the project affect traffic?

The Port’s Draft EIR traffic analysis found that SCIG will have a significant positive impact on traffic, both locally and regionally, by eliminating more than 1.5 million truck trips from the 710, reducing congestion and improving air quality.

How will the project affect air quality?

The Port’s environmental report concludes that SCIG results in far greater health risk reductions than even the Port’s own goals for new projects.  SCIG proves that cleaning up the environment and providing good area jobs and economic growth can go hand in hand.

Is rail an environmentally efficient way to move goods?

Yes, rail is the most environmentally efficient way to move goods. Trains are now several times less polluting than trucks handling equivalent loads. For each gallon of fuel used, trains move the same ton of freight two to four times as far as trucks. BNSF trains can move one ton of freight 500 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel.

Will old diesel trucks travel to SCIG?

No, only trucks meeting the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goal of 2010 or newer will be used to transport cargo between the marine terminals and the facility.  In addition, BNSF is going beyond the CAAP and will also require that by 2023, 75% of the trucks moving cargo between the marine terminals and SCIG will be LNG or equivalent emissions vehicles, and by 2026, 90% of the truck fleet serving SCIG will meet this requirement. 

Will the trucks serving the facility travel in my neighborhood?

No, trucks are strictly prohibited from traveling on residential streets. BNSF will require trucks serving SCIG to travel on specified non-residential truck routes and be equipped with global positioning satellite (GPS) devices to monitor and enforce compliance. See truck route map below.

SCIG Trucks Will Not Travel on Residential Streets

How will the project affect noise in the surrounding area?

A noise analysis is included in the environmental review. SCIG has been designed to minimize operational noise, including use of all-electric cranes to transfer freight directly onto rail, welded rails to reduce clicking, lubricated wheels, and no switching of locomotives or banging of rail cars.
BNSF will place the truck queuing lanes along the western edge of the facility, with the entrance off PCH to keep trucks off the Terminal Island Freeway north of PCH and ensure trucks wouldn’t be entering or idling close to neighborhoods in West Long Beach. The Port’s Draft EIR found that daytime noise at SCIG will be mitigated to less than significant through construction mitigation and installation of a sound wall.

Do you have any more information about efforts to reduce noise?

In addition to extensive landscaping around the facility, BNSF is willing to build a sound wall, assuming sufficient access to the relevant property.

When will the facility be completed?

The facility is still in the process of environmental review, but the facility is anticipated to become operational in 2016.

Why can't BNSF develop an on-dock rail facility?

The Ports have already maximized the size of planned and proposed on-dock railyards and support infrastructure and additional capacity is needed close to the ports.

Despite the efforts by the Ports to increase on-dock capacity and by the railroads to increase utilization of on-dock rail, on-dock rail isn’t an alternative to SCIG. Not only is there currently a shortage of on-dock capacity, but such capacity is limited by marine terminal design, shipper and steamship logistics and railroad operations. There will always be a need for near-dock/off-dock facilities, and expansion of this capacity is necessary to accommodate expected cargo volumes.

Will SCIG be incorporating zero-emissions technology to move containers from the Port to the facility?

A study by the USC Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy concluded that Zero Emissions Container Movement System technology is not currently feasible for operational deployment at this time.

The Port of Los Angeles is planning to continue investigating these technologies as they develop and BNSF intends to participate with the port in studying these technologies as they evolve.

What is the process from this point?

The draft environmental impact report (EIR) was released in September 2011 and will have to be approved before construction can begin. BNSF Railway first proposed its green facility back in 2005. To follow state environmental requirements, the Port of Los Angeles issued a public notice and held community meetings on the Southern California International Gateway that same year. The next phase of this review was the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which was released in September of 2011. Through this process, the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Department assessed many key issues important to us and our neighbors, such as traffic, noise, and air quality. After the review is complete, the Final Environmental Impact Report will go before the Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners for approval. If you support our project complete our online support card at www.bnsfconnects.com. To submit official comments related to the Port's Draft Environmental Impact Report or view the report online visit http://www.portoflosangeles.org/EIR/SCIG/DEIR/deir_scig.asp.

Who can I talk to if I have other questions or concerns?

Please contact Lena Kent, our Regional Director of Public Affairs at (909) 386-4140 or via email at Lena.Kent@bnsf.com.