From Bill Boyarsky's March 20 column, "Alameda Corridor Could Be Our Biggest Boon--or Boondoggle," it appears he has missed the point of what building a bipartisan coalition of support entails.
The key to the success of the Alameda Corridor has been bipartisan support from its conception. Elected officials from both parties at the local, state and national levels have demonstrated leadership in supporting the corridor: President Clinton, by including an appropriation in his fiscal year 1997 budget for the corridor; Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Steve Horn, by introducing language identifying the corridor as a project of national significance; and Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, by making the corridor an economic cornerstone of their respective administrations. Additionally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Reps. David Dreier and Jerry Lewis and Assembly members Steve Kuykendall, Larry Bowler, Martha Escutia and Juanita McDonald have been instrumental in moving this agenda forward. The list goes on.
In times past, a project of this size and significance could count on a major federal contribution to the total costs of construction and maintenance. But in today's budget-cutting environment, receiving federal grant dollars for the project was simply not an option. Supporters of the corridor, however, came up with an innovative alternative plan for federal participation. Rather than supplying the Alameda Corridor with a grant, funds would be used as seed money to guarantee a loan for $400 million. The loan would then be paid back to the federal government over 30 years through the wharfage and user fees that will be assessed upon completion of the project in 2001.
Bipartisan federal support for this financing alternative has also been greatly enhanced by the fact that of the $1.8 billion that it will cost to complete the Alameda Corridor, nearly $1.4 billion will come from nonfederal sources. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach spent over $450 million purchasing the rights of way for the corridor, and they have pledged to sell $600 million in revenue bonds once they have received the federal seed money. In addition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has promised to spend $350 million on the Alameda Corridor as part of its long-range regional plan.
Commissioner, WorldPort L.A.
Commissioner, Port of Long Beach