Obama Sends $15 Million for Port Jobs

By Post Staff

Ray LaHood

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Gov. Jerry Brown joined local officials this week to celebrate a $15 million grant to help the Port of Oakland expands its rail yard. The grant is a contribution to the $80 million railroad expansion at the former Oakland Army Base, which is the first step in a $1 billion project to transform the site into a world class logistics center managing cargo flow at the port. “”This is a game-changing project. It really puts the Oakland port on the map in the 21st Century,” said LaHood, speaking Monday at a Jack London Square news conference. “The Port of Oakland is already the leading export gateway on the West Coast and this … grant will help boost rail access and capacity, which will contribute to the economic growth of the region,” he said. Attending the press conference, besides LaHood and Brown, were Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Councilmembers Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan. Councilmember Kaplan said she is fully committed to making sure this development “creates jobs and benefits our community.” “We appreciate President Obama’s commitment to making Oakland a success story for job creation and economic revitalization,” she said. “This is the first step in making our port more competitive and more efficient  in moving cargo to the mar place by rail to cities across the country – and to create nearly 10,00 well-paying jobs,” said Council President Larry Reid. “This is a very promising development given the extraordinary need in our community for jobs that pay a living wage,” said Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of the Oakland Private Industry Council. “As it goes forward, this project will need to coordinately closely with organizations that prepare people for the workforce in order to guarantee jobs for those who need them,” she said. The rail yard expansion is set to begin in the fall of 2013 and be completed in 2015. A regional tax measure on the November ballot would provide an additional $275 million to build an overpass to separate rail and truck traffic near the port. “We have a strong team in place that is committed to seeing this project succeed,” said Port of Oakland Commission President Pamela Calloway. “We appreciate the support of the Department of Transportation and the support that Secretary LaHood and his staff … for the efforts they have made here in Oakland and Northern California,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar  Benjamin. “The Port of Oakland’s ship-to-rail exchange project is an excellent investment of federal funds in local and national economies because it both creates jobs and it improves critical public infrastructure in the Bay Area,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The Army left the 366-acre base in 1999, dividing it between the port and the city. The City Council adopted a proposal last month to develop its part of the property, fashioning a policy in response to community groups that are pushing to ensure the project will produce jobs and work for local residents and small businesses, not onlybenefit  the developers and international corporations.
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