Breaking News



As commerce and commuters cross the sleek cable-stayed bridge at the Port of Long Beach that is the new crown jewel of U.S. infrastructure, the Port is ushering in the next era of its robust capital improvement program.

For its budget year that started , the Port plans to spend nearly $380 million on upgrading its landside facilities and waterways – nearly the same sum it dedicated to capital improvements the previous year. The details reflect a shift to increased investment in the Port’s rail network – a focus that will dominate the Port’s capital improvement program for the next 10 years, just as the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement and Middle Harbor Redevelopment projects dominated much of the past decade.

“The Port of Long Beach is a world-class, competitive gateway because of our longstanding commitment to moving cargo as efficiently and cleanly as possible,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Staying the course in modernizing our infrastructure, including prioritizing rail, ensures we remain the Port of Choice, regardless of challenges and disruptions along the way.”

“Taking care of this valuable asset that drives the nation’s economy is our custodial duty,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna. “It’s about protecting and improving our facilities for the benefit of generations to come.”

Neither the ongoing U.S.-China trade war nor the global pandemic has shaken the Port’s commitment to maintaining and improving its facilities, ensuring the flow of cargo and the safety and security of goods and those who move them. This year, 58% of the Port’s $650 million budget is earmarked for development and renovation projects.

Dock Rail Support 

The Port’s budget contains nearly $80 million – up from $22 million the previous year – to jump-start construction of more arrival and departure tracks, streamline connections, and eliminate bottlenecks. The projects are aimed at boosting the volume of cargo that moves through the port by rail to 35%. The capstone is the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, an $870 million project that will allow terminals to maximize their on-dock rail yards, increase the efficiency of rail operations port-wide, and improve air quality and traffic conditions by reducing the number of trucks calling at the Port.

“Pier B will be a state-of-the-art rail facility with storage, staging and repair infrastructure to ensure all our largest container terminals will be able to load and unload trains up to 10,000 feet long,” said Director of Program Management Tom Baldwin. “There is no way to overstate the significance of this multipurpose support yard and the role it will play in expediting cargo and reducing emissions.”

Like the new bridge and Middle Harbor, Pier B consists of multiple projects to be built in phases over the better part of the next 10 years. Smaller, equally significant rail projects are the Terminal Island Wye Track Realignment, a $40 million project that will streamline rail moves between Terminal Island and the Alameda Corridor; the Fourth Track at Ocean Boulevard, a $25 million project that will improve train movements and switching on the rail network serving Piers E, F, G, and J; and the addition of a $35 million second mainline track from Pier G to Pier J to enhance rail moves and reduce congestion between these on-dock yards and Pier B. These projects are due to be built within the next five years.

Nearly half of this year’s capital budget is earmarked for demolition of the old Gerald Desmond Bridge and completion of Middle Harbor, projects that total nearly $3 billion combined from start to finish. The $172 million investment will substantially complete both projects after which spending on them will drop significantly, Baldwin said. “This will bring more than a decade of planning, design and construction of these two marquee programs to their close-out phase.”

Due to be completed in spring 2021, Middle Harbor combined two aging shipping terminals into one of the world’s most technologically advanced and greenest container terminals. The 304-acre facility operated by Long Beach Container Terminal will have the capacity to process 3.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually. Demolition of the original Gerald Desmond Bridge is due to be completed in 2023.

The Port is also spending more on environmental projects. The Port has allocated $33 million, a 74% increase compared with the prior year. One-third is slated for pilot projects demonstrating near-zero and zero emissions cargo handling equipment and trucks. The Port is pursuing these and other strategies with the Port of Los Angeles with the goal of establishing a zero-emissions cargo-handling fleet by 2030 and transitioning the entire drayage fleet calling at the San Pedro Bay port complex to zero-emissions trucks by 2035.

The Port’s next round of capital improvements over the next decade totals $1.7 billion and builds on $4 billion the Port and its funding partners invested to modernize its infrastructure over the last decade. In addition to terminals, rail, environmental projects and the new bridge, the Port’s capital programs support dredging and navigation improvements, technology infrastructure, and safety and security projects, including two new fireboat stations housing firefighters, the Port’s state-of-the-art fireboats and landside engines. The Port’s capital budget also maintains and improves streets, sewers, stormwater systems and Harbor Department facilities. This includes the demolition of the Port’s former administration building.

Presently, the Port has 25 projects in design and 49 projects in varying stages of construction. These include multiyear projects that carried over from the previous fiscal year when 32 were in design and 22 were construction.

Long-range planning, strategic investment and clear objectives guide the Port’s capital program and there’s no time like the present, Baldwin said. “We are constantly looking forward to make sure we provide the infrastructure to meet the forecasted cargo demands, strengthen the port’s competitive position, reduce the environmental impacts of terminal operations, and continue to be an economic engine that powers the nation. Even in crisis, we build.”


No comments