Ports Of LA And Long Beach Take New Steps To Reduce Congestion Amid Record Amounts Of Cargo

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could get an influx of cash next fiscal year, with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal setting aside $2.3 billion for the state’s ports that would both help train workers, reduce air pollution and fund infrastructure projects.

The infrastructure spending, in particular, boasts national implications as LA and Long Beach, the country’s two busiest ports, remain at the center of a global supply-chain bottleneck that threatens to slow America’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The port-related money from Newsom’s $286.4 billion spending plan, which the governor introduced on Monday, Jan. 10, focuses on shoring up the supply chain’s vulnerability over the long-term.

If enacted, those billions of dollars, coupled with already announced and future infusions of cash from the federal government, would help modernize California’s ports, which both Newsom and President Joe Biden have continually pledged to help with since an ongoing surge in cargo began in the second half of 2020.

“These funds, together with our own dollars, private investment and new federal port investment in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a Monday afternoon statement, “will prove to be a powerful combination that accelerates delivery of critically needed projects like a first-of-its-kind goods movement workforce training campus, cargo support facilities, digitalization enhancements, and zero-emission equipment and charging infrastructure.”

Newsom’s spending plan for ports includes:

  • $1.2 billion for port infrastructure and goods movement.
  • $875 million for zero-emission port equipment, short-haul trucks and infrastructure.
  • $110 million for a training campus to support the workforce.
  • $40 million to enhance the state’s capacity to issue Commercial Driver’s Licenses.
  • $30 million in funding for operational and process improvements at the ports, which could include improving data connectivity between the ports for more efficient cargo movement and congestion reduction.

“While the state has already taken several actions to mitigate supply-chain disruptions,” Newsom’s proposed budget said, “additional investments are necessary to support supply chain resiliency and transform the way California moves goods and people in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and considers environmental impacts to communities.”

Trade experts have long said the supply chain — a complex and nuanced system that spans foreign factories and seaports, ocean carriers, U.S. ports and terminal operators, dockworkers, truckers and rail companies, and warehouses — is vulnerable to breaking down.

And those fears became a reality amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After an initial crash in cargo, caused by both factories in China shutting down and the initial round of U.S. stay-at-home orders, imports surged in the latter half of 2020. Both the LA and Long Beach ports, which bring in about 40% of all of the nation’s imported goods, routinely broke records.

And that surge continued into 2021.

Though final numbers are not yet in, Los Angeles is expected to blow by the 10 million mark for twenty-foot-equivalent units — the universal cargo measurement — during last calendar year, making it the first port in the Western Hemisphere to do so. Long Beach was set to surpass 9 million for the first time.

But the surge, caused by consumer habits shifting to only shopping even more during the pandemic, also created major issues.

During the worst period of the supply-chain crisis, more than 80 ships were waiting along Southern California’s coast for spots to open at the ports, when normally there is no such queues. They waited up to two weeks to dock.

Truckers complained there weren’t enough chassis to actually move containers. Warehouses overflowed. Wilmington residents complained about empty containers blocking their streets at times.

Officials from the state and federal governments, both ports, terminal operators and ocean carriers and other stakeholders ultimately came together to offer short-term fixes ahead of the 2021 holiday season — worried that would-be gift-givers would be unable to find what they wanted and the recovery would stall.

The ports expanded gate hours for truckers. They sought more space to store containers while the cities of LA and Long Beach relaxed some stacking regulations. The DMV opened more locations for commercial driving tests to help alleviate a trucker shortage. Ocean carriers created a new queueing system. The ports also created — though they have not yet implemented — a fee against ocean carriers whose import containers remain too long at terminals.

Since officials announced that fee in late October, the ports have seen a 45% combined decline in aging cargo, they said on Monday.

A second fee on empty containers is also set to begin on Jan. 30.

Both officials have repeatedly said such short-term salves are not enough.

“Our supply chain challenges require both near-term and long-term solutions,” Seroka said. “This suite of investments positions California’s system of ports to be leaders in operational efficiency, sustainability, and job creation.”

The $1.2 billion in infrastructure money would help the ports increase rail capacity and roadways serving port terminals, including by expanding rail yards and building new bridges.

One such initiative currently underway is Long Beach’s Pier B on-dock rail project.

That project will reconfigure the Pier B Rail Yard to encompass about 100 acres in the northern area of the port’s footprint, south of Anaheim Street and the 710 Freeway, providing a central staging area for trains.

Construction on the $1 billion facility is set to begin next year and finish by 2032. The goal is to increase how much cargo leaves the Long Beach port via on-dock rail from 28% to 35%.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Long Beach would receive a $52.3 million grant to help with the Pier B project. It was part of $241 million nationwide the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program doled out in December.

Los Angeles received none in that round — but it will eventually.

The  recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure law will provide $450 million annually in funding for the ports program for fiscal years 2022 through 2026, for a total of $2.25 billion.

Newsom’s spending plan, meanwhile, will go beyond just infrastructure.

One key aspect port officials lauded Monday is the workforce training center.

Long Beach port Executive Director Mario Cordero, in fact, gave a presentation to that city’s harbor commission on Monday about the new center, planned for port property in Wilmington.

Cordero hailed the proposed center as historic in that both ports have come together to plan and build it.

“It’s a great day for the ports,” Cordero said.

The center is key, as it helps to address one of the biggest sources of tension between ports and the longshore union: how to properly adapt the workforce to increasing automation.

“If you want to move 40 million TEUs a year you’re not going to do it with automation or with the current workforce, we need to up our game,” Mark Jurisic, of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 13, said Monday.

The training center being planned, he said, “will put us there.”

“There are training centers in Europe, Asia and even in Canada,” Jurisic told commissioners. “Canada is using this as an economic advantage against us in bidding for jobs, saying their ports are safer, more efficient and more productive.”

Crane drivers in Long Beach and LA have to use simulators and wait for a crane to be out of use before they can train using the actual machinery.

Currently, “we have no place to train people,” Jurisic said. “That’s a poor way of doing it.”

The push for such a center gained steam during recent discussions over terminal automation that is expected to threaten some traditional longshore jobs over time.

The center will take three years to build and is designed to attract new workers to the cargo industry. It will address skill shortages and provide a way for workers to improve their skills to meet the needs in what is a fast-changing industry.

“Education and workplace training are so critical,” said Commissioner Frank Colonna. “It’s been a long journey.”

And then there’s the money for zero-emission vehicles, which has long been a goal of both ports.

The twin ports have for years publicly recognized the role they play in polluting nearby communities and have pledged to operate more cleanly.

The ports have a joint Clean Air Action Plan that, among other things, requires an entirely zero-emissions truck fleet by 2035.

But such a conversion will cost an estimated $10 billion.

In April, the ports will implement a fee on certain trucks to help fund the changeover, though LA’s and Long Beach’s levies differ slightly.

The fee, and the move to zero-emission trucks in general, have caused tension among the ports, trucking companies, drivers — many of whom are independent contractors — and environmentalists, the latter of whom say officials haven’t moved quickly enough.

One major problem, port officials have said, is that zero-emission technology isn’t commercially available to the extent it needs to be.

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In December, the Port of LA received the first four of Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicle — or BEV — pilot trucks for port trucking company Total Transportation Services. Another 30 BEVs are expected to follow next year, with 70 fuel cell electric vehicles anticipated to be in place in 2023 — if TTS receives enough government funding.

Newsom’s spending plan, according to the proposal, is meant to fund 1,000 zero-emission trucks.

“There is no time to waste in tackling the climate and environmental impacts that are happening at the ports,” Teresa Bui, state climate policy director for advocacy group Pacific Environment, said in a statement. “And we applaud Gov. Newsom for including funding and leadership to move the state of California from dirty fossil-fueled ships, planes and rails to zero-emissions solutions.”

The next step in the budgeting process is for Newsom to submit his May revision. Then both the state Assembly and Senate must approve the budget, likely with changes of their own. The state’s next fiscal year begins July 1.

“The governor’s budget,” Seroka said, will “address bottlenecks in our supply chain, advance our efforts to decarbonize the freight system, and ensure a robust and resilient workforce continues to move goods on behalf of the state and nation.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

Source : https://www.dailybulletin.com/2022/01/10/how-newsoms-proposed-budget-will-help-la-long-beach-ports-shore-up-supply-chain-reduce-pollution/

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Buttigieg awards $241M in grants for America’s ports, including $52M to boost rail capacity in Long Beach

Source:KTLA

Buttigieg awards $241M in grants for America’s ports, including $52M to boost rail capacity in Long Beach

Buttigieg doles out $241M to US ports to boost supply chain

Source:KLFY

Buttigieg doles out $241M to US ports to boost supply chain