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    Hoping To Keep Getting Fed'l Taxpayer Money To Expand Transportation/Port Capacity While Not Meeting Fed'l Clean Air Standards Now, SCAG & AQMD Seek State/Fed'l "State of Emergency" Declaration, SCAG Proposes Futuristic Transit Systems For Containers

    (May 6, 2007) -- With a deadlines looming by which to submit a plan showing Washington how they plan to attain federal clean air standards -- unmet while many officials support virtually uncontrolled growth at the region's largest pollution source, the Ports of LB/L.A. -- two regional agencies have adopted hastily proposed resolutions urging the Governor of CA and the President of the U.S. to declare Southern California air quality a state and national emergency, urging Sacramento and Washington to take immediate steps to rectify the emergency.

    On May 3, the Southern CA Association of Governments' (SCAG) Regional Council voted to urge a state/federal "state of emergency" [text on link below] and also forwarded to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) a "Draft Final 2007 AQMP [Air Quality Management Plan] Regional Transportation Strategy & Control Measures" which proposes consideration of futuristic rapid transit systems to expand cargo capacity with claimed minimal environmental impacts [details below].

    A day on May 4, the AQMD's governing board approved a request for a state/federal "state of emergency" resolution -- apparently so hastily proposed that no written material was available for the public on the AQMD website. The AQMD board separately deferred action on the overall AQMP [Air Quality Management Plan] until its next meeting on June 1.

    Colloquy during AQMD's board meeting revealed that representatives from SCAG, AQMD and the CA Air Resources Board -- facing a June 15 deadline for sending Washington a plan with measures showing how the region will attain currently unmet minimal federal clean air standards -- met behind closed doors on April 30 to discuss how to proceed (and the SCAG and AQMD requests for state and federal emergency-styled assistance followed).

    SCAG's proposed portion of the AQMP includes possible consideration of measures including dangling container tracks, letting trucks haul multiple containers on dedicated truckways, automated "truck platoons" and freight movement systems using various conveyances propelled by MAGLEV or Linear Induction Motors (Six Flags ride style).

    One of many options from SCAG's proposed AQMP document:

    Auto-GO [using linear induction motors] an overhead cargo container handling system with fully automated single-container shuttles using linear induction motors...

    Container monorail
    Source: SCAG Draft Final Air Quality Management Plan, "Regional Transportation & Control Measures," p. 24

    ...The Auto-GO system envisions container vehicles suspended from a girder system, each vehicle equipped with a spreader bar and cables to lift and drop containers at the terminals. This system would also be fully automated. The transportation process would start inside the terminal where a gantry crane drops off the container...A cargo carrying system that is integrated with the carrying vehicle picks up the container and raises it by means of a specially designed bogie-spreader bar combination. The container is then secured under the container shuttle, and transported at 50 to 75 mph to its final destination.

    Other options:

    Truck-Only Lanes. SCAG is formulating a business plan for a regional truckway system comprising 142 center-line miles of dedicated truck lanes extending from the San Pedro Bay ports eastward toward Barstow. The dedicated truckways offer a viable and partially self-financing solution for mitigating congestion and reducing mobile source emissions. The system would have a graduated toll rate based on a number of factors including the relative emissions associated with each vehicle. The truck-only lane would potentially allow each truck to carry multiple containers, reducing emissions and further improving the efficiency and financial viability of the system. The requirement that all trucks use alternative clean technology or otherwise meet the 2010 on-road heavy-duty exhaust emissions standards is also being considered. The EIR/EIS for the I-710 Corridor project mentioned above will include evaluation of specific alternatives for the first segment of a truckway system from the ports to downtown Los Angeles. Source: SCAG AQMP, p. 17

    A SCAG staff report describes the measures as "based on the introduction of high speed, high performance, environmentally sensitive regional transport system (HSRT), in combination with truck-only lanes, to move both cargo and people throughout the region. Relative to goods movement, an HSRT system can provide greater throughput and reliability with near-zero emissions. Because of the complexity of the issues and the numerous ongoing and planned efforts of the goods movement stakeholders, the measure [collective measures] will continue to be refined, including as part of the 2007/8 RTP [SCAG Regional Transportation Plan]"

    In the public interest, posts a link to the SCAG proposed "Transportation Strategy and Control Measures" in pdf form. To download it, right click on the following link and save the document to your hardrive: SCAG's portion of AQMP, click here. [Caveat: 4.3 MB and SCAG's server is frequently sluggish].

    SCAG's document has been forwarded to AQMD...which deferred action on the AQMP until its next meeting in early June.

    Under the federal Clean Air Act, SCAG, AQMD and the CA Air Resources Board (CARB) face a June 15, 2007 deadline for submitting to U.S. EPA a "State Implementation Plan" (SIP) showing attainment with the 8-hour ozone standard, and an April 5, 2008 deadline for submitting a plan for attaining the federal PM2.5 standard for dangerous ultrafine particulates.

    According to a SCAG staff report, AQMD favors submitting an integrated plan to U.S. EPA for addressing ozone and PM2.5 in June 2007...while CARB plans to take the legally allowable time until April 08 to submit a plan for attaining federal standards on PM2.5.

    To view SCAG's staff report and text of the SCAG approved resolution requesting state and federal authorities to declare a state of emergency on the matter, click here.

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