SAN PEDRO ( — A vote by port officials Thursday could clear the way for a $500 million railway project at the Port of Los Angeles.

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KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners is scheduled to vote on an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project that some community leaders say will increase pollution in the area.

Residents of Wilmington, Long Beach and other neighborhoods near the port were expected to attend the Harbor Commission’s public meeting, where commissioners are expected to vote on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad’s proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project.

Opponents fear the project — which would locate a BNSF rail yard four miles away from the ports — will increase air pollution in the community due to diesel exhaust fumes from trucks hauling containers and locomotives operating in the yard.

John Cross, president of the West Long Beach Neighborhood Association, said the project will create health risks for those living near by.

“Asthma, heart disease and cancer increase n our neighborhood,” said Cross. “We do not need another rail yard that’s gonna be bringing 1.5 million trucks a year.”

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But BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent downplayed those fears.

“The data shows that air quality has improved, and there’s a reduction in health risk in that particular area,” Kent said.

Political supporters like L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino have argued that SCIG will be the “greenest intermodal facility in the United States” and will help ease traffic by diverting containers onto the rail line rather than traveling on the 710 Freeway and local roads to downtown rail facilities.

“This will go a long way towards reducing traffic congestion throughout the Southern California region and keeping the Port of Los Angeles – the nation’s number one trade gateway – both competitive and sustainable,” Buscaino said in a statement.

The meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Port’s Cruise Terminal Annex Building.

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