Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster voices his opposition to the Southern California International Gateway facility during a public hearing by the Los Angeles Harbor Commission in San Pedro in March. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / March 7, 2013)

The Long Beach City Council has authorized a lawsuit to challenge plans by Los Angeles to build a rail yard in the harbor that could impact low-income neighborhoods in West Long Beach.

Council members voted 9 to 0 Tuesday to sue over the Southern California International Gateway -- a 153-acre project in the Port of Los Angeles capable of handling more than 8,000 trucks a day and the equivalent of 2.8 million 20-foot shipping containers annually.

Long Beach officials have been concerned the project does not provide enough measures to reduce adverse environmental impacts on nearby homes, schools, day-care centers and housing for homeless veterans.

Approval of the lawsuit also marks a break in relations between Long Beach and Los Angeles, which have long worked together to improve both the air quality and movement of cargo in their respective ports.

Los Angeles harbor officials say the new rail center will reduce air pollution in the area by employing the latest low emissions trucks, cranes, yard hostlers and locomotives.

In addition, more than a million truck trips a year will be eliminated from the Long Beach Freeway, they say, and measures will be taken to reduce light and noise from yard operations.

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