Monday, November 18, 2013

Stopping Urban Sprawl in Moreno Valley: The World Logistics Center

Photo: © Wikimedia/Raunet CC-BY-SA

Urban sprawl has no universal meaning, but can be defined as uncontrolled growth with no regards to land use controls or negative impacts to transportation infrastructure or the environment.

The Transit Coalition along with several groups of local Moreno Valley residents and the Press Enterprise are questioning the World Logistics Center, a giant proposed logistics hub on the eastern edge of the city at the base of the Badlands Hills. The newspaper generally holds conservative-moderate, business-friendly positions on controversies. However, the PE is not a fan of unchecked growth. Nor are we. Currently, WLC is urban sprawl which needs to be opposed until questions about traffic and pollution are addressed, put into the master plans, and reflect the values of residents.

For WLC to work as proposed, designated truck routes away from neighborhoods and schools would need to be established, likely along the freeways. Trucks on the surface streets must be restricted to local deliveries only; that includes Alessandro and Perris Boulevards. New trucks will need to use clean technology to prevent Moreno Valley's air quality from worsening. The air already gets pretty dirty on many days. With the lack of a rail line in the WLC area, the 60 Freeway through the Badlands would have to be expanded, possibly beyond Caltran's proposal of adding truck climbing lanes so that traffic bottlenecks do not form on either side. If no rail alternative is built, the freeway corridor may even have to be doubled in size to sustain WLC operations, not only for truck traffic but for commuting workers.

In fairness, the trucking industry has begun to work on cleaning up their trucks by using alternative fuels. The WLC buildings are proposed to be eco-friendly. Logistics development adjacent to existing freight rail lines and airports generally work. Amazon has brought a fulfillment center into town, placed just outside the southeast corner of the March ARB. That will drive up the job market for better paying logistics wages with 1,000 additional full-time jobs in Moreno Valley. In addition, integrating Inland Empire logistics growth and the badly needed jobs that come with them into Long Beach's proposed GRID hub would certainly help dispel the sprawl from economic growth and potentially spark logistics movement competition with the Panama Canal expansion. Has Iddo Benzeevi been inclined to innovate and make bank from this opportunity?

Many valid questions about traffic and pollution are not being addressed in WLC plans and the Moreno Valley City Council continues to pander to the developer--possibly illegally--and stonewalling valid criticism by concerned citizens. Many trucks still run on dirty diesel fuel. Traffic through the Badlands hills is already approaching capacity, more than 16% of the total traffic is logistics movement and there are no truck capacity improvement proposals except for plans to add truck climbing lanes.

Got to get smart about logistics growth.

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