News in Depth
Cong. Millender-McDonald, Ass'yman Lowenthal & Vice Mayor Colonna w/ Gateway Council of Gov'ts Schedule LB Forum On Strains To Transportation Infrastructure, Air Quality & Quality of Life From Region Becoming Nation's Primary Trade GatewayEvent follows Congresswowan's January Town Hall pledge to look at pollution and dismal air quality...and comes as House Transportation bill awaits Committee markup
Background / Analysis
(March 17, 2004, updated) -- Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., LB-Carson), Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV), and LB Vice Mayor Frank Colonna, Board president of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments have scheduled a forum to which the public is invited on Friday, March 19 at LB's Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave. from 10:00-11:30 a.m. entitled "Growing Our Region Responsibly -- Taking the Next Step".
The scheduled event follows a pledge by Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, responding at a January 2004 Town Hall style meeting in LB to look at pollution and dismal air quality. It also comes as a massive House Transportation bill awaits a House Committee markup, not yet formally announced but possibly on March 24. The omnibus Transportation bill is strongly favored by LB City Hall since it includes funding for the Gerald Desmond Bridge at I-710 improvements. Since its original introduction, the Transportation bill was amended in Nov. 2003 to also reflect the substance of a 2003 bill by Congresswoman Millender-McDonald to fund and facilitate $17.6 billion in goods movement projects of "national significance."
"Dear Friend" letters, signed by the trio and addressed to area groups and activists, indicate the forum will focus on what is described as tremendous strain to the area's transportation infrastructure, air quality and quality of life resulting from the region becoming the nation's primary trade gateway. LBReport.com reproduces the letter's text below:
We are inviting you to attend a community meeting to address various issues
that impact the state of California and the Country. Our region must address
several issues In the coming years, such as the escalating congestion along
the 1-710 corridor, increased demand on the Gerald Desmond Bridge, and the
population growth in the region. This Forum will focus on the impact of the
1-710 corridor and the residents and businesses of the region, which will
include representatives from three levels of government to discuss these
pressing matters. We are seeking a balance between improving our Quality of
life and sustaining the vitality of our regional economy. We will be hosting
this Forum on Friday March 19 at the Long Beach Main Library Auditorium,
located at 101 Pacific Avenue beginning at 10 AM.
The environmental challenges that face our region In the new millennium are
staggering. For the past year our communities along the 1-710 corridor have
been engaged in an on-going dialogue on how the increase of goods movement,
the population growth and the future of the I-710 corridor are affecting our
Everyday there are approximately 34,000 truck trips leaving the ports daily.
By the next decade or beyond that number is expected to almost triple to
approximately 91,000 per day. Currently, the Southern California population
is 17 million. Southern California's population will increase by upwards of
six million by 2030, bringing the population to 23 million. Given that our
region has become the primary trade gateway to the rest of the nation, there
is tremendous strain on our transportation infrastructure, our air quality
and the quality of life of the citizens in Southern California.
During the Forum, we will discuss economic impacts, environmental measures
that are already directed at improving air quality, livability and safety
enhancements. It is our hope that this Forum will allow participants the
opportunity to share ideas, and hopefully, propose ideas that will
effectively address the regional and local concerns in Southern California
and particularly along the 1-710 corridor.
Invited agencies and public officials to this Forum will include
representatives from the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and the Los
Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, the Gateway Cities
Council of Governments and the Southern California Association of
Governments will be among those scheduled to address the Forum. Others
invited include, the California Department of Transportation, Metropolitan
Transportation Authority, Long Reach Transit, Alameda Corridor
Transportation Authority, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, South
Coast Air Quality Management District, Region IX US Environmental Protection
Agency, California Air Resources Board, Natural Resources Defense Council
and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
We look forward to your participation and input at this very important
[signatures of Cong. Millender-McDonald, Assemblyman Lowenthal and Vice Mayor Colonna]
Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, whose district encompasses roughly 80% of LB, is a key member of the House Transportation Committee.
As first reported by LBReport.com, in October 2003 Congresswoman Millender-McDonald introduced HR 3398, a bill to fund and facilitate roughly $17.6 billion in goods movement projects of national significance.
Shortly after introducing the bill, the Congresswoman indicated that she supported incorporating HR 3398's substance in an omnibus Transportation Reauthorization Bill ("Transportation Equity Act" or TEA-LU (pronounced "tee-loo"), formally HR 3550)...and she succeeded:
The concepts and certain substantive portions of HR 3398 are incorporated in the House version of the TEA-LU Transportation bill (pertinent text below).
TEA-LU is strongly backed by LB officialdom and City Hall has advocated its passage since it includes funding for Gerald Desmond Bridge and I-710 improvements.
LBReport.com has learned that the House version of the TEA-LU Transportation bill (HR 3550) is awaiting a "mark-up," possibly as soon as March 24, in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (on which Cong. Millender-McDonald serves). The mark-up session has not yet been officially scheduled.
The LB City Council, which formally sets city policy, has publicly discussed the Desmond Bridge and 710 funding publicly. However, to our knowledge HR 3398's goods movement language and federal powers to designate certain projects to be of "national significance" have not been seriously discussed by the Council.
The goods movement issue first arose at the November 4, 2003 Council meeting on the eve of a trip by Mayor O'Neill to Washington in her capacity with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. One local activist, LB writer Bry Myown, came to the Council podium and confronted city management and the Mayor, asking what lobbying role City Hall either directly -- or through the Port, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Gateway Council of Governments or SCAG -- had played in HR 3398.
"I think the public wants...[to] know what lobbying efforts are being undertaken," Ms. Myown said, noting that City Hall had publicly lobbied for other Port-related transportation funding by calling it a matter of "national security" and the public might be concerned "about our communication to you [on 710 expansion issues] being preempted."
Ms. Myown said she was concerned and surprised to learn that a release from Cong. Millender-McDonald's office listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors [in which Mayor O'Neill now plays a leadership role] as a supporter...and confronted O'Neill over her plans to testify before a House Subcommittee on Transportation on Nov. 4 in support of transportation funding.
"I guess what I'm asking, could we and the public have a little more specificity about what lobbying is being done on our behalf and could you share some of that lobbying with us before it occurs," Ms. Myown said.
Mayor O'Neill replied, "The lobbying is for not just Long Beach. The lobbying to the U.S. Conference of Mayors is to make sure that there is money in the transportation bill."
Ms. Myown tried to pursue the issue, noting that Millender-McDonald's office had listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors as a supporter of HR3398...but O'Neill did not respond to that point.
Ms. Myown's testimony prompted 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga -- who chairs a Council oversight committee on 710 freeway expansion -- to ask city management to provide a subsequent briefing on HR 3398. To our knowledge, no public briefing took place.
The day after Ms. Myown's Council encounter with the Mayor (and one day before the Mayor's arrival on Capitol Hill), the LB Area Chamber of Commerce issued a "call to action" strongly supporting HR 3398 -- including a suggested form letter addressed to Cong. Millender-McDonald, cc'd to Mr. Carl Kemp, City Hall's Manager of Public/Government Affairs.
"Click to download a letter of support on HR 3398," said the Chamber's web site, "fax it to us...and we will do all the work!" The Chamber's proposed letter stated:
Dear Congresswoman Millender-McDonald:
I am writing to inform you of my support of HR 3398 - Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance Act.
The I-710 carries approximately 15% of all U.S. waterborne container traffic, and the Gerald Desmond Bridge carries approximately 10% of all U.S. waterborne container traffic. The poor existing traffic conditions on the bridge will be further exacerbated due to continued growth in international trade and regional traffic.
HR 3398 addresses the nation's most pressing transportation and economic needs by allocating additional federal funds for transportation infrastructure projects that contribute to the overall efficiency of the national transportation infrastructure.
HR 3398 is important to the future of the I-710 and the Gerald Desmond Bridge by providing $18 billion over six years to fund critical transportation infrastructure projects - nine billion of which would be a discretionary program for state and local governments to plan and build "Goods Movement" projects, while the remaining $9 billion would be dedicated to funding projects determined to be of "National Economic Significance."
I believe the tremendous growth in international trade will continue to place an increasingly heavy burden on our nation's seaports, trade corridors, highways and rail lines.
It is for these reasons that I join you in supporting HR 3398.
INSERT NAME AND TITLE HERE
At a November 6 press event (previously reported by LBReport.com) with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (including Mayor O'Neill), Cong. Millender-McDonald announced her intention to recommend that the House Committee of Transportation & Infrastructure -- on which she is a member -- make HR 3398 part of the omnibus national transportation bill.
"When we reauthorize TEA-21, I am recommending to the Committee that we include The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance in the reauthorization bill because it follows the hallmark principals set forth in the two previous transportation reauthorization bills ISTEA and TEA-21," Congresswoman Millender-McDonald said in remarks prepared for delivery to the delegation. The Congresswoman's DC office provided LBReport.com with the complete text of her remarks which we reported in full.
On the same day, the Congresswoman placed the following statement in the Congressional Record:
GOODS MOVEMENT PROJECTS OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE (H.R. 3398) -- HON. JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD (Extensions of Remarks - November 06, 2003)
HON. JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALDOF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2003
- Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of this Congress, legislation that I recently introduced. The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance is legislation that addresses some of our Nation's most pressing transportation and economic needs.
- How freight moves through our communities is an important issue with far reaching implications. Goods movement is the driving force of our Nation's economy. This is a State issue, a Federal issue and it is an issue that directly affects the communities in which we live.
- According to the Federal Highway Administration, $7.4 trillion in goods were moved on the Nation's highway system in 1998, directly employing 10 million people. In 2000, $706 billion in international merchandise trade flowed through U.S. seaports and $646 billion was handled by our railroads.
- The volume of goods is projected to grow nationally by 67 percent over the next two decades. This tremendous growth in international trade will continue to place an increasingly heavy burden on our Nation's seaports, trade corridors, highways and rail lines. Traffic congestion, delays, accidents, and freight transportation costs have increased as a result. On a human level--our citizens are spending more and more time stuck in traffic instead of at home with their families.
- Over the past 30 years our population has grown, our international trade has increased and our congestion has worsened. For example, in 1970, trade was 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Today, it is over 25 percent. Since 1970 the population of the U.S. has grown by 40 percent. At the same time, the number of registered vehicles has increased by 100 percent while our road capacity has increased by only 6 percent!
- By the year 2020, shipment of containerized cargo moving in and out of the U.S. will increase by more than 350 percent.
- By the year 2020, total domestic tonnage of freight carried by all U.S. freight systems will increase by at least 67 percent and international trade will increase by nearly 100 percent.
- The transportation reauthorization bill is the perfect opportunity for us to address these pressing transportation infrastructure needs. TEA-21 began to address Goods Movement issues with the creation of the Borders and Corridors Program. But we need to take this need further during this reauthorization bill.
- Funding for the Borders and Corridors program was far from adequate. This new legislation encourages communities and regions to develop comprehensive programs and plans that address the goods movement issues of our transportation infrastructure.
- This legislation recognizes that we must have a dedicated source of funding to ensure that goods movement and projects of economic significance can be built and that these projects contribute to the overall efficiency of the national transportation infrastructure. As we continue the dialog of reauthorizing the transportation bill, the Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance needs to be a part of that conversation.
- Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance will do the following: It will provide $3 billion per year to a Goods Movement Program.
- This legislation separates the Borders and Corridors Program and creates one strong Corridor and Gateway Program. Corridor projects represented 95 percent of the project requests for the Borders and Corridors program.
- My legislation focuses our resources on projects and initiatives that promote the safe, secure and efficient mobility of goods and on the immediate and long-term needs of our transportation infrastructure.
- This legislation combines and enhances elements of two highly successful transportation programs. This program uses the criteria from the Corridors program and combines it with the fiscal responsibility of the full funding grant agreement of the transit New Starts Program.
- Specifically, this program provides $1.5 billion a year, $9 billion over the life of the reauthorization bill for local communities, States and the Federal Government to plan and build Goods Movement projects. These projects will ultimately enhance local, regional, and State economies, and of course, the national economy.
- Finally, $1.5 billion a year or $9 billion over the life of the reauthorization bill will be dedicated to funding projects of National Economic Significance.
- Throughout the country there are national bottlenecks that congest our communities and slow our national economy down. As we all know from experience, if there is a bottleneck on the highway, traffic several miles away can be affected.
- If the type of gridlock that I just described happens and goes unchecked, it will affect an entire region and the entire country and ultimately our economy and the livability of our communities.
- These are projects located throughout the country that are ``ready to go'' major investments in the national transportation infrastructure. By funding these projects we will be stimulating the national economy while investing in the long-term health of our national transportation infrastructure.
- This legislation, like the entire transportation reauthorization bill, is an economic stimulus package. For every billion dollars invested in public transportation infrastructure, 47,000 jobs are created.
- I ask my colleagues to strongly support this legislation as part of the transportation reauthorization bill. Join me and support The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance.
Asked in November 2003 by LBReport.com whether Mayor O'Neill had lobbied on behalf of HR 3398 during her DC trip, Mike Sanders, Sr. Assistant to the Mayor, first contended the term "lobbying" was unclear, then said the Mayor was in DC for the Conference of Mayors event to support federal transportation funding...and yes, she supports Cong. Millender-McDonald's HR 3398 designating projects of national significance...and yes, the Mayor considers the 710 freeway project and the Gerald Desmond bridge among such projects.
In early 2004, in a publicly agendized voted action, the LB City Council adopted a federal legislative agenda which said that proposals and policies consistent with the certain items would be supported by the City. These included:
I-710 Freeway/Gerald Desmond Bridge: Advocate for TEA LU funding to enhance, beautify and maintain the 1-710 Freeway/Gerald Desmond Bridge, which serves as a
vital thoroughfare for residents , businesses and commerce.
Alameda Corridor: Support efforts to maintain and enhance funding for the Alameda Corridor, including improvement of federal job training and business development
International Trade: Support federal efforts to enhance international trade, which benefits local businesses, port development, and the overall local economy.
Transportation: 1. Support efforts to protect and enhance federal funding for the City of Long Beach, Port of Long Beach and Long Beach Transit, for mass transit, transportation projects, and needed infrastructure; 2. Encourage recognition of infrastructure demands placed on Long Beach due to the movement of goods through our City and region.
Three other House members joined as co-sponsors of HR3398 including Cong. Jane Harman (D., southbay cities). The exact text of HR 3398's was not substance were then incorporated in the House Transportation bill, its general concepts were:
SEC. 1304. PROJECTS OF NATIONAL AND REGIONAL SIGNIFICANCE.
(a) FINDINGS- Congress finds the following:
(1) Under current law, surface transportation programs rely primarily on formula capital apportionments to States.
(2) Despite the significant increase for surface transportation program funding in the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century, current levels of investment are insufficient to fund critical high-cost transportation infrastructure facilities that address critical national economic and transportation needs.
(3) Critical high-cost transportation infrastructure facilities often include multiple levels of government, agencies, modes of transportation, and transportation goals and planning processes that are not easily addressed or funded within existing surface transportation program categories.
(4) Projects of national and regional significance have national and regional benefits, including improving economic productivity by facilitating international trade, relieving congestion, and improving transportation safety by facilitating passenger and freight movement.
(5) The benefits of such projects described in paragraph (4) accrue to local areas, States, and the Nation as a result of the effect such projects have on the national transportation system.
(6) A program dedicated to constructing projects of national and regional significance is necessary to improve the safe, secure, and efficient movement of people and goods throughout the United States and improve the health and welfare of the national economy.
(b) ESTABLISHMENT OF PROGRAM- The Secretary shall establish a program to provide grants to qualified entities for projects of national and regional significance.
(e) APPLICATIONS- Each qualified entity seeking to receive a grant under this section for an eligible project shall submit to the Secretary an application in such form and in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary shall establish.
(f) COMPETITIVE GRANT SELECTION AND CRITERIA FOR GRANTS-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall--
(A) establish criteria for selecting among projects that meet the eligibility criteria specified in subsection (d);
(B) conduct a national solicitation for applications; and
(C) award grants on a competitive basis.
(2) CRITERIA FOR GRANTS- The Secretary may approve a grant under this section for a project only if the Secretary determines that the project--
(A) is based on the results of preliminary engineering;
(B) is justified based on the project's ability--
(i) to generate national economic benefits, including creating jobs, expanding business opportunities, and impacting the gross domestic product;
(ii) to reduce congestion, including impacts in the State, region, and Nation;
(iii) to improve transportation safety, including reducing transportation accidents, injuries, and fatalities;
(iv) to otherwise enhance the national transportation system; and
(v) to garner support for non-Federal financial commitments and provide evidence of stable and dependable financing sources to construct, maintain, and operate the infrastructure facility; and
(C) is supported by an acceptable degree of non-Federal financial commitments, including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources to construct, maintain, and operate the infrastructure facility.
SEC. 1305. DEDICATED TRUCK LANES.
SEC. 1306. TRUCK PARKING FACILITIES.
The Senate-passed version of the Transportation bill doesn't include Cong. Millender-McDonald's goods movement verbiage...which means that if the goods movement language survives in the House Transportation bill, it would also have survive a House-Senate conference committee.
The House Transportation Bill originally called for $375 billion in federal spending...but has since shrunk to about $275 billion as the federal deficit soars. The Bush administration has indicated it may veto a Transportation bill that busts budget limitations.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald told a well-attended January 2004 LB Town Hall style meeting,
"[W]e're now going for the gusto: we've got to talk to the President. And when I speak with him, I will let him know that this bill will be a bill that opens up corridors not only in California, not only in Long Beach, but throughout the country, because the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles sends 45% of goods throughout this country, it emanates from these two ports. They are the most important ports in the country, and we want the President and everyone in Congress to know that..."
A number of LB area activists have expressed concern that designating certain projects to be of "national significance" could invite federal authorities to fast-track projects that override local concerns and invite port growth and pollution.
At a January 2004 Town Hall style forum in LB, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald strongly denied that her legislation promotes pollution and publicly vowed to look at pollution and also the area's dismal air quality (details below).
The City of LB's Manager of Public/Government Affairs, Carl Kemp told LBReport.com on March 17:
I don't believe that anyone locally, regionally or even federally is interested in fast-tracking a project that bypasses the required due diligence associated with getting necessary environmental information and appropriate community input.
I think the efforts undertaken by the Gateway Cities [Council of Governments] in general, and the speicific efforts undertaken by Councilmembers Uranga, Lowenthal, Lerch and [Vice Mayor] Colonna in Long Beach, are evidence that there is no policy or political will to circumvent the community that will impacted by this project. [Councilmembers Uranga, Lowenthal, Lerch are part of the City of LB's I-710 oversight policy committee...and Vice Mayor Colonna chairs the powerful I-710 Major Corridor Study oversight policy committee.]
On the contrary, there is real interest including the community.
At the January 10, 2004 Town Hall style meeting, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald heard firsthand from residents who charged her goods movement bill would worsen Port pollution and harm area residents' health.
Dr. Gordon LaBedz: ...I am a family physician at Kaiser-Permanente and I am here representing the Sierra Club. We have 750,000 members in the United States and 58,000 members in this area.
And I'm showing you an AQMD map here...the black area [on the map] is what we call the "Diesel Death Zone." All of you live in this black area. Thousands of people die every year in this extra, according to the AQMD study that I'm showing you here.
And we'll be having a meeting with your staff to discuss this issue, because I was very, very concerned with some of the things you've said this evening about the Port.
The Port is the single biggest environmental issue in your district. Thousands of people die every year from Port pollution. It is the single biggest stationary source of pollution in southern California.
The ships burn the dirtiest fuel available. The trucks burn the second dirtiest fuel available.
And the 710 freeway, the Alameda Corridor, all contribute to that pollution.
Also objecting was Ms. Myown, who sparked a colloquy with the Congresswoman:
Ms. Myown: We do not believe the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are an economic engine for our community. They are job exporters. What they are is asthma engines for our children, cardiopulmonary disease and predictable excess cancer engines for our community.
And if you talk to our Mayor who is in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, if you talk to our Vice Mayor who is the chair of the Gateway COG [Council of Governments] and the Alameda Corridor, if you talk to our lobbyist who is paid more than half a million a year by this city to lobby you, you may think that we support [HR] 3398 and want $18 billion for goods movement infrastructure.
But if you read the local paper, you know that they did not share their plans for the freeway with us, that hundreds of people have attended meetings and asked them to scale back those plans, we believe...
Cong. Millender-McDonald: What plans? I'm not privy...
Ms. Myown: The I-710 major corridor study plans. And we in this community were shocked to read about your request for $18 billion targeted for goods movement infrastructure and your leadership of the goods movement caucus, because we believe that if people east of California want to lose their jobs and shop at WalMart, they can pay for goods movement infrastructure.
What we want is a transportation bill that gives us a clean, safe and employed community. [applause]
Cong. Millender-McDonald: Thank you very much. My bill does not in any way enhance pollution. [Audience interjection: Absolutely does.] It has not, it does not [more audible audience disagreement]. No, it does not. It does not.
What it does is to move goods that are already coming from these ports throughout this. We must move goods that are coming in from these ports. [audience interjection: no.] We have that obligation. What do you want us to do, to shut them down? [audience interjections. Yes.] We cannot do that folks. [cross talk] We cannot shut them down. This is not WalMart. This is a bill that I have introduced that will move goods and not clog them up on freeways.
[Audience interjection: They're killing us.] No, good are not killing you. [audience: The diesel emissions...].
Do not say that the bill is killing you. The bill is not killing you. It is the pollution of the trucks that we're trying now to get cleared up, sir, on these freeways. I have just begun to study the pollution of those trucks. The many trucks that are coming out of those ports are not in good shape. They are polluting and we've got to look at that, and we've got to find solutions to that.
But you can't shut down an economy, people, that should give jobs to you because of a Goods Movement caucus bill, please. [audience interjection seeking to be heard] Let's be sensitive to this. I'm only telling you that I am with you on the environment. I am with you on, [the] Goods Movement bill is not an environmental hazardous bill. It is only saying that we've got to move the goods that are in the ports more effectively, more efficiently and to send them off and over the country...
At the conclusion of the forum, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald pledged:
Cong. Millender-McDonald: I have heard you now and thank you so much. I have to also look out for your well-being on every front. I cannot just be so myopic, my dear friends, to look at one thing and one thing only. You would not want me to do that. And while I understand what you're saying, the bill [HR 3398] is going through without a doubt, but I also will look at the pollution and also the very dismal air quality down here. Now I'm telling you that I will look at that.
Because what I'm trying to do is, I will guarantee you that the Goods Movement bill will bring jobs...We must have jobs, people. We must also have good quality air. You should be looking at the Clean Air Bill, the Clean Water Bill, and don't let this [Bush] administration water that down which they are about to do.
So these are things that we're trying to stop in their tracks while I will look at what many of you have talked about and that's this Port and the very bad quality of air that you're breathing.
Now I do know that the Port has a heck of a lot of trucks coming out of it. It's going to quadruple over the next decade or two. We understand that. So we've got to move the traffic out of the 710...We understand what you're saying.
We cannot change Ports. We cannot close down Ports. We've got to live with them, but they have to also be amenable to what we're talking about and that is a better quality of life.
The Ports of LB and L.A. are adjacent to Congresswoman Millender-McDonald's district, which includes roughly 80% of LB. The Ports are in the district of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV).
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