LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A multi-billion loan agreement was announced Thursday between the state and the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund infrastructure improvements to help clear the shipping bottleneck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The partnership will allow California to expedite work on port-specific upgrades, expand capacity for freight rail, develop inland port facilities to expand warehouse storage, and upgrade highways to improve truck travel times, including around the San Pedro Bay and in the Inland Empire. The loan will also help kick-start construction on electrifying railyards and trucks, establish land ports of entry to expand trade capacity and cross border commerce, and make rail crossings safer and more efficient.
"California's ports and infrastructure system is key to the country's supply chain," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. "Thanks to our collaboration with the Biden-Harris Administration, this innovative federal-state partnership will help us fast-track those projects that will make our ports and infrastructure even more efficient."
The pandemic led to a number of factors that ground the global shipping chain to a halt. Outbreaks have closed factories overseas, and shortages of shipping containers and drivers have led to a historic backup at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are already the busiest ports in the nation.
"Our supply chains are being put to the test, with unprecedented consumer demand and pandemic-driven disruptions combining with the results of decades-long underinvestment in our infrastructure," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
State and federal officials are still working on short-term solutions to help clear the current bottleneck at the ports. Some of that work includes the federal government leaning on private companies to expand their operations around the clock, a move that the ports, unions, Walmart, Target, FedEx, UPS, and Home Depot have committed to. The Department of Transportation is also working with local and state DMVs to expedite the process of obtaining a commercial driver's license for truck drivers.
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