Back To Square One

$ 26 billion. That’s “Billion”, with a “b”. Mark Pisano, the executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), estimates that it will cost that much to bring the port community’s inadequate highway system up to date. Federal pollution standards established for 2010 call for an additional $ 4 billion, he said.

The Town Hall Forum, co-hosted by Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and State Senator Alan Lowenthal, was held at the Long Beach Public Library last Thursday, and except for a review of Senator Lowenthal’s proposals and the usual wish-list for more space, more trains, higher bridges, wider highways and more sensible emission standards, the only new information with respect to goods movement in the region was the estimated price of $ 30 billion to … you guessed it … to Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. The locals won’t have to pay the whole tab though, some will say, because the federal government most likely will be tapped for some of the cost. That’s nonsense. For one thing, the federal government gets all its money from the taxpayer, and furthermore, the federal government is never as generous as we’d like it to be. Congesswoman Millender-McDonald, for instance, was able to wrench only $ 57.5 million from the feds for transportation funding over a six-year period. Does that philanthropic effort tell us anything about the government’s willingness, or ability, to assume very much of the estimated $ 30 billion onus? This astute woman knows a lot more about government purse-strings than we do, and she requested the attendees to return next year with more specific information. “Next year”, she said. Does anyone get the message? “A lot of these things sound good”, she reminded the group, “but the community needs to have the bottom line”. And the bottom line they need to have is money. “We’re not going to solve these problems without money”, said Senator Lowenthal. Back to square one.

Toward the end of last year the Long Beach Press-Telegram published an article in connection with the Redevelopment Agency Board and inferred that the city was in financial trouble. So if that well is running dry, and if financial backing from the federal government is nothing more than a pipe dream, why do the citizens of the community waste valuable time on forums and proposals and expansion projects? $ 30 billion is simply not available now, and it never will be. The community has been misled into taking the wrong approach. A number of well-known maritime authorities have been saying all along that there’s gotta be a better way. We have to do things differently, they’ve admitted. We’ve hit the wall … we’ve backed ourselves into a corner. Time and time again this website has called attention to the chaotic conditions in and around U.S. container ports and has noted and quoted the consternation expressed by dozens of maritime officials.

We’ve stated on a number of occasions that our firm is anxiously awaiting the chance to take everyone off the hook. We have the ability to create the needed space, eliminate traffic congestion, reduce emission and noise levels, create employment opportunities, eliminate costs for the state, the cities, the ports and the taxpayers, release acreage back to the communities, eliminate the need for dredging, and lower the cost of all consumer goods as well. And the nightmarish $ 30 billion? No matter what eventually takes place, that estimate will have been nothing less than complete fantasy.