(April 30, 2004) -- As cargo trains tooted and area officials, lawmakers and Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) representatives looked on, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called the Alameda Corridor a "model project for the rest of the nation...a model of not only good planning and good execution but also, of course, of innovation"...and acknowledged ACTA's repayment -- 28 years before its due date -- of $573 million for a $400 million Dept. of Transportation (DOT) loan (with interest) that helped launch the project.
At an April 29 ceremony near the Henry Ford bridge, Secretary Mineta said "all of you here at ACTA have been instrumental in becoming a model project for the rest of the country. Transportation, as all of you know, moves the American economy, and projects like this one, with responsible government and innovative problem solving exemplify the future of transportation in the United States."
Among those attending were (left to right) Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (R., HB-LB-PV), Port of L.A. Executive Dir. Larry Keller, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, LB Harbor Commissioner (and served as ACTA CEO during construction) James Hankla and current ACTA Board vice-chair and L.A. Councilmember Janice Hahn.
Mayor O'Neill thanked Secretary Mineta for his assistance...and said she's closely watching the progress of the latest federal Transportation Bill (which local officials hope will fund other area projects).
Congressman Rohrabacher thanked Secretary Mineta and said, "Let's not ever forget that this [Alameda Corridor] not only saves money but it's going to make the environment cleaner for our kids, because there's not going to be as many vehicles on the road."
State Senator Betty Karnette (D., LB) commented, "We pay our bills. Now that means we ought to be able to borrow more money [laughs]."
ACTA vice-chair and L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn said the Alameda Corridor had already produced visible improvements in traffic and air quality.
The event concluded with a signing ceremony for a proclamation acknowledging repayment of the $400 million loan made in 1997 (being repaid with accrued interest). Shown seated at the signing table (left to right): Secretary Mineta, Mayor O'Neill, LB Harbor Comm'r (ACTA CEO during construction) Hankla
Following the repayment ceremony, Secretary Mineta "tore up" the loan document.
Early repayment of the ACTA loan was accomplished with an April 21 public bond sale...and the loan debt will be formally paid via wire transfer on May 6.
"Interest rates remain near historically low levels, and ACTA wanted to refinance its debt and achieve the same types of savings homeowners have been tapping into for the last couple of years," said ACTA chair and LB Vice Mayor Frank Colonna in a written release.
The Alameda Corridor, which opened on April 15, 2002, is a 20-mile rail line between the ports of LB and L.A. rail yards near downtown L.A., central to which is a mid-corridor trench, a below-ground railway that is 10 miles long, 30 feet deep and 50 feet wide. The project eliminated more than 200 railroad crossings where cars and trucks previously had to wait for long freight trains. It cut by more than half (to roughly 45 minutes) the time it takes to transport cargo containers by train between the ports and downtown Los Angeles, a Dept. of Transportation release said.
ACTA, a joint powers agency governed by the cities and ports of LB and L.A. and the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was built at a cost of $2.4 billion, funded through public and private sources, including the $400 federal DOT loan repaid now. Other funding included $1.16 billion from bonds, plus funding from the ports and federal, state and local grants, including $347 million in Federal Highway Administration federal-aid grant funds.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach represent the third largest port complex in the world...and roughly one-quarter of all U.S. waterborne international trade depends on the ports to reach market, a DOT release said.