Old Army base to join Port of Oakland

July 9, 2012 9:43:01 PM PDT
After years of planning, wrangling and fighting, the old Oakland Army Base finally has a new mission -- it's becoming part of the port. The old base is tucked between interstates 80 and 880. It was divided up into pieces, giving several different government agencies part ownership.

The Army gave up the base in 1999, so the decision on Monday was 12 years in the making. At 366 acres, it's going to be, the biggest redevelopment project in Oakland. The first phase will be to bring in rail lines to make this land into a shipping, packing and distribution center for the Port of Oakland.

"Not a lot of places in America are we providing good new blue collar paying jobs, but this is one of them," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Oakland's mayor told the audience that 5,000 jobs will be created, most of them in constructing the shipping center, as rail lines and warehouses are built. The rail portion of the project is benefiting from a $15 million grant from the Department of Transportation.

"It really puts the Oakland port on the map in the 21st Century. And frankly, that's really what California is all about," said Secretary Of Transportation Ray LaHood.

LaHood says expansion will be more rail transportation, fewer trucks on the roads, and less air pollution. Both LaHood and Gov. Jerry Brown said the same goes for high speed passenger rail.

"And I'm very proud that the California Legislature voted not only to start the high speed rail project, but billions and billions of dollars of local projects on both sides of the bay going to Sacramento going to San Jose going to the Central Valley," said Brown.

Brown spoke about the state legislature's vote on Friday to go ahead with the first phase of the state's high speed rail project, despite a recent Field Poll that stated 56 percent of voters say that they oppose the $68 billion project. LaHood believes the polls are wrong.

"It's very popular on the northeast corridor, it's very popular in the Midwest, in Michigan, where they have a Republican governor by the way," said LaHood.

In spite of LaHood's protestations, the numbers in California show that the project is not popular.


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