OAKLAND -- Three days after his high-speed rail triumph, Gov. Jerry Brown was in Oakland on Monday with a top Obama administration official to celebrate Washington's help in pressing ahead with a major freight project.

Joined by Mayor Jean Quan and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Brown heralded a $15 million federal grant to help the Port of Oakland expand its rail yard.

"This is important because we're investing in Oakland, in California, in American jobs," Brown said during a news conference at Jack London Square.

The $80 million rail yard expansion at the former Oakland Army Base is the first phase of a more than a $1 billion project to transform the base into a state-of-the-art logistics center managing cargo flow at the port.

The 35-acre facility will allow the port to service more freight trains, reduce truck traffic and provide additional rail capacity for the warehouses and logistics centers slated to open throughout much of the Army base.

"This is a game-changing project," LaHood said. "It really puts the Oakland port on the map in the 21st century."

The Army abandoned the 366-acre base in 1999 and later divided it between the port and the city. After several proposals fell through, both entities began working together on the logistics and warehousing plan that is projected to generate 2,810 construction jobs and 2,032 permanent jobs.

The Oakland City Council raced to approve the plan last month in hopes of preserving $242 million in state funds that had been earmarked for the port.


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The port is counting on those funds for the rail yard project, which is slated to begin during the fall of 2013 and be completed in 2015. A regional tax measure on the November ballot would provide an additional $275 million for further infrastructure improvements, including an overpass to separate rail and truck traffic near the port.

Brown fended off questions about the $69 billion high-speed rail project, which passed by a single vote in the state Senate on Friday even though it is not fully funded. "It's a job creator and thank God we got it," Brown said. "The money is there. We have the capability in California -- in a $2 trillion annual economy -- to finance this thing."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6345.