West Coast Freight Transport Projects Chosen for Federal Investment

A map of the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) project. Image via IBR program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Jan. 25 awarded funding to 11 projects through the fiscal year 2023-24 National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) program, including two projects in the Pacific Northwest and one in Southern California.

The Mega program funds large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.

Congress established the program in 2021 through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and dedicated $5 billion to the program over a five-year period. The most recent awards were the second round of funding, worth roughly $2 billion.

“These awards,” the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) said in a statement, “will make considerable investments in intermodal freight infrastructure. Multiple members of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) were the recipients of over $728 million for their projects.

CAGTC is a coalition of about 60 public and private organizations dedicated to increasing federal investment in America’s intermodal freight infrastructure. The organization’s stated mission is to promote a seamless goods movement transportation system across all modes—air, sea, rail, etc.—to enhance capacity and economic growth.

The West Coast projects awarded funding are as follows:

On-Dock Rail Support

The Port of Long Beach is set to receive $283.37 million for its Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility project. The project would complete the port’s Pier B On-Dock Rail support Facility Program by completing the North Rail Yard Expansion and the South Rail Yard Expansion.

The North Rail Yard Expansion consists of construction of two new mainline tracks, five new 10,000-foot receiving and departure tracks, and 26 new storage tracks north of the existing Pier B Yard.

The South Rail Yard Expansion would add seven new 3,000-foot storage tracks, lengthen and rehabilitate seven existing 3,000-foot storage tracks, construct two new tracks in the Pico Avenue Rail Corridor, and reconfigure tracks near Pier D Street.

“The Port of Long Beach has a long-standing commitment to reducing the environmental impact of nationally significant goods movement,” Port of Long Beach Chief Operating Officer Dr. Noel Hacegaba said. “The Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility will improve cargo velocity through our port and region while reducing the supply chain’s carbon footprint.”

 “The positive impact of this project will ripple across the nation, delivering goods and benefits to all Americans,” added Hacegaba, who also serves as an officer on CAGTC’s Board of Directors.

I-5 Bridge Replacement

The Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) Program will receive $600 million for its I-5 Bridge Replacement Project. The project is supported by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Port of Vancouver USA.

The project would update Interstate 5 with a seismically resilient replacement of the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River, connecting Vancouver, Wash. to Portland, Ore. The bridge is expected to have specialized lanes for heavy trucks, rail connections and shipping.

“The existing bridge is a critical link on one of the most significant freight corridors on the West Coast, with nearly 14,000 trucks carrying $132 million in freight commodity across the bridge each day,” Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar said.

“This grant demonstrates that addressing the safety and reliability challenges faced by travelers and freight on this aging and outdated facility is a high priority for the federal government as well as both states,” Millar added.

“The I-5 bridge is incredibly important to the Port of Vancouver USA and our ability to transport freight,” Port of Vancouver USA CEO Julianna Marler said. “This north-south route from Canada to Mexico is also vital to national and international trade, but the century-old infrastructure that currently exists creates costly delays that hamper employers, commuters and our economy.”

“Securing $600 million from the MEGA Program to modernize this section of the I-5 corridor is a monumental step toward fixing this chokepoint and keeping our economy moving,” she added.

Truck Parking Information Management

The Washington State Department of Transportation and California Department of Transportation are slated to receive $12.28 million for their I-5 Truck Parking Information Management System Project (INFRA).

The project intends to deploy a regional truck parking information management system at more than truck parking facilities along the I-5 corridor in Washington, Oregon and California. Additionally, the project would collect and disseminate real-time truck parking information to connect truck drivers with available truck parking.

“Every American relies upon and benefits from a safe and effective intermodal freight network,” said Joni Casey, president and CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America. “We applaud Congress for allocating these funds … and the (Biden) administration for awarding projects that will support and spur economic growth.”