Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vancouver USA Port Moves Toward Selling Parcel to Steel Firm

The Washington state Port of Vancouver’s Board of Commissioners have approved the first step in an effort to bring a Eugene, Oregon-based steel manufacturing firm to the port – and with it the promise of about 125 local jobs.

On Tuesday, the port board unanimously approved declaring a 22-acre port-owned parcel as surplus, setting the stage for the port to sell the property to Farwest Steel Corp.

Farwest plans, if the deal moves forward, to spend just under $5.1 million for the parcel and spend between $20 million and $30 million to develop the facility.

Farwest officials said the firm plans to take advantage of the port's rail access and the new facility, when completed, is expected to receive 200 to 300 rail cars a year. The proposed 300,000 square foot facility, which in addition to manufacturing would also include distribution and office space, could begin construction as early as spring or summer of 2011.

Proponents of the deal, both on the board and in the public, pointed to the areas desperate need for "family-wage" jobs like the 125 local positions Farwest claims the new facility will generate. The port has also calculated that the facility could create as many as 900 indirect jobs, such as truck drivers servicing the facility.

Opponents of the deal, including the union local of the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union, argued that selling port property instead of leasing it is a dangerous precedent setting action that would only encourage other firms to seek the same terms, thus weakening the port's ability to control and utilize the port land in the public interest.

The port board is likely to consider the second part of the process – the actual sale of the property to Farwest – sometime in July.

Feds Allocate More Funds to Fight Grape Moth

Federal officials are pledging another $1.75 million to help eradicate an exotic pest that is threatening one of California leading and most lucrative export agriculture products – wine.

Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will use funds from the 2008 farm bill to continue the already more than $3 million fight against the European grapevine moth, which feeds on grapes.

The tiny 1/4-inch long pest, which is well known to growers in Europe, Japan, southern Russia, Chile and the near East, can also attack fruits and flowers of such plants as blackberries, cherries, nectarines, olives, persimmons, pomegranates and rosemary.

State and federal agriculture officials have declared the infestation of the moth, first discovered in the northern California Bay Area late last year, to be a serious threat to the state's $18 billion a year wine making industry. Since the first discovery of a grapevine moth, others have been discovered in the grape-growing areas of the Bay Area. Experts are still unclear as to how widespread the infestation may be.

The moth can feed on either the grape fruit or flower, but when it feeds on mature grapes it can cause both visible damage to the fruit and a botrytis infection, also known as bunch rot. Both the visible damage and the rot render the fruit useless.

The European grapevine moth is in the same taxonomic family as the Australian light brown apple moth, which has already led to a more than $75 million eradication program since an infestation began in California's Bay Area in 2007.

USDA officials are also set to announce this week that an additional $1 million will be made available directly to growers for the use of environmentally friendly treatments to eradicate the moth.

Woodland Port Top Exec Named to Area Development Boards

The recently hired top executive at the Washington state Port of Woodland has been named to the boards of economic development groups in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.

Port executive director Nelson Holmberg, who joined the port in April after serving three years as the Port of Vancouver USA communications director, will take seats on the board of directors of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council and the executive board of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Governments.

Holmberg, 43, has led the Port of Woodland since April. Before that, he worked for the Port of Vancouver as communications manager for three years.

Paul Cline, president of the Woodland port’s three-member board of commissioners, told The Columbian that the board was “...very happy with Nelson’s level of involvement.”

Located about 85 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River, the Port of Woodland has about 200 acres of industrial property serviced by Interstate Highway 5, BNSF and Union Pacific main lines, and a federally maintained deep-draft water channel that is 40 feet deep and 600 feet wide.

Guam Port Unveils Modernization Plan Draft

The Port Authority of Guam is offering up the first views of what the port may look like after a more than $200 million modernization plan that the island and United States military label as essential to handle an impending transfer of U.S military from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

The PAG design and engineering consultant for the modernization plan, Parsons Brinckerhoff, has released a preliminary draft of the what port upgrades will be performed under the plan.

Once Parsons and the PAG have finalized the first phase of upgrades, the design plan will be handed over to Maryland-based contractor EA Engineering, Science and Technology, who last week was awarded the build contract for the modernization program by the U.S. federal government.

In presenting the preliminary draft to the PAG on Tuesday, Jeff Schechtman, director of Parsons Brinckerhoff's Ports and Marine Division said that the modernization will "include a phase expansion of the terminal, terminal yard, implementation of modern systems, new facilities, more streamlined operations at the Port, and also allow for enhanced storage capacity for the port to move more cargo through the Port as the population of the island grows over the next five to 10 years."

Parsons has been working on the design plan since late last year.

The PAG plans to release the finalized Phase 1-A portion of the modernization plan in July, with construction expected to begin in summer of fall of next year.

Parsons, back in 2007, was the original consultant that identified the more than $200 million in upgrades needed at the port to handle the U.S. military's transfer of 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam, The move was originally slated to start later this year and run through 2014.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

$400 Million Guam Port Upgrade Contract Awarded

The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration, or MARAD, has awarded Maryland-based engineering firm EA Engineering, Science and Technology Inc., a seven-year, $400 million contract to modernize the commercial port of Guam.

Under the terms of the contract, EA will oversee and with its partners, conduct all work required under the Port Authority of Guam-adopted 2008 modernization plan.

"The timely completion of this major infrastructure improvement program is necessary to provide modern and efficient transportation access to the island of Guam, and to meet the Department of Defense requirements for the Guam buildup," said EA officials in a statement.

The PAG modernization plan is part of an effort by the island to prepare for the transfer of about 8,000 Marines and 9,000 from Okinawa, Japan to Guam by 2014. Nearly 75 percent of the modernization plan's called-for $207 million in port improvement projects are directly related to meeting the requirements of the military buildup on the island.

The PAG is still trying to find funds to begin the modernization program. Earlier this year, the port was denied $50 million in recovery funds by the United States Department of Transportation – funds that would have been used by PAG to obtain an additional $49 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The PAG is now hoping to receive $50 million from the US Department of Defense to begin work on the modernization program – a move encouraged by a recent letter from President Barack Obama to members of Congress requesting support of the funding.
PAG officials said they believe that the awarding of the EA contract by MARAD signals a commitment from the federal government to move forward on the modernization program.

Exact terms of the EA contract were not immediately released and MARAD and PAG officials plan to meet Wednesday on Guam to discuss preliminary details.

Los Angeles Port: Pollution Programs Working

Environmental programs at the Port of Los Angeles have cut port-generated diesel emissions by double-digit numbers, according to the port's 2009 air emissions inventory released last week.

Diesel particulate matter, most commonly seen as soot in tailpipe emissions, declined 37 percent at port area monitoring stations compared to 2008 levels said the report. Levels of port-generated nitrogen oxide, or NOx, and sulfur oxide, or SOx, also dropped in 2009, down 28 percent and 36 percent respectively.

When compared to the 2005 baseline emissions measurement year, particulate matter has declined 52 percent, NOx emissions were down 33 percent, and SOx emissions declined 56 percent.

Several environmental programs are being pointed to by the port as the reason behind the declines, including: the trucking industry's rapid modernization of the port-servicing fleet; use of low-sulfur fuel by the shipping industry; ship-to-shore power facilities at several terminals; the shipping industry buy in to a voluntary speed reduction program; growing use of alternative fuels in off-road yard equipment and harbor craft; and, a modernization program of the port-servicing railroad's fleet of locomotives.

The major contributor to the pollution reduction, according to the port, has been the Clean Truck Program. Implemented in October 2008, the program utilized access licenses and bans on certain model year trucks to force the local drayage industry to modernize their fleets to 2007 or newer model year vehicles – which in some cases run 90 percent cleaner than the older trucks they replaced.

All of the cited programs are part of the Clean Air Action Plan, an omnibus environmental plan developed and adopted jointly with the neighboring Port of Long Beach in 2006, that set a 45 percent reduction over 2005 pollution levels as a 2012 goal.

Both ports are now considering new 2014 goals for the CAAP, which would reduce particulate matter emissions by 72 percent, NOx emissions by 22 percent, and SOx emissions by 93 percent below 2005 levels. The Port of Long Beach is expected to release its own inventory within the next several weeks. In the past, the two ports inventories have tended to mirror each other in measured results.

Port of Tacoma Faces Bond Dilemma

The Port of Tacoma, which has seen 20 straight months of total cargo box declines, could really use some good news for once.

Unfortunately, its luck, or lack thereof, is still holding.

Two years ago, port officials signed financial deals with Dexia Credit and Merrill Lynch Capital Services to help finance the port's Blair-Hylebos Project. Under the terms of the deals, the port agreed to issue $230 million worth of bonds.
Last year, though, the port canceled the project.

Port commissioners were told last week that the port remains obligated to issue the bonds by 2013 or face penalties of about $24 million depending on the going interest rate.

Port officials told the governing board they believe they can work with Dexia and Merrill Lynch to extricate themselves from the situation by substituting existing bonds for those the port is required to issue.

However, the escape plan only makes sense if the port has profit-generating capital projects ready to finance and interest rates are more than the agreed 4.13 percent. Current bond interest rates have been hovering between 4.25 percent and 4.5 percent since January.

Port commissioners said that they believe the renegotiated deals would eventually cost the port money – a particular concern given the ports recent staff layoffs and cuts to maintenance as cargo-generated profits have slipped.

Long Beach Port Kicks Off Dredging Project

Officials from the Port of Long Beach and the United States Army Corps of Engineers officially kicked off a $40 million dredging project at the port on Tuesday.

During the 17-month project, which actually began earlier this year with dredging work at a nearby passenger ferry terminal, the Army Corps will oversee the deepening of the port's main shipping channel as well as the removal and containment of contaminated sediments from the harbor.

The project, being performed by contractor Manson Construction Co., is being paid for by the port and the Army Corps.

When completed in 2001, the project will allow the main channel to accommodate the largest oil tankers fully laden. While the port already features one of the world's deepest main channels – capable of handling the world's largest container vessels – inconsistencies in previous dredging projects left certain areas of the main channel impassable by ultra-large oil tankers when fully loaded. These tankers have had to either arrive in Long Beach with a partial load or unload some of their cargo outside the harbor entrance before entering the port.

The dredging project will also provide enough room for the oil tankers to turn around while in the harbor, also something currently not possible. In addition, the project calls for some of the dredged material to be recycled and used as landfill for an on-going terminal development project at the port's Pier G.

“The Main Channel Deepening and related projects are a significant step forward for the Port of Long Beach and the harbor as a whole,” said port Executive Director Richard Steinke. “This is a vital project that is creating jobs and will help keep the Port competitive as the economy rebounds.”

Ports Best Practices: Remaining Competitive in a Tough Economy

Development and Modernization

The Port of Long Beach has responded to the current economic difficulties facing its customers with incentives and delays of fees. In the long-term, the Port of Long Beach is also modernizing terminals and other infrastructure with roughly $3 billion worth of improvements.

In order to encourage more cargo through the Port of Long Beach, the port has developed an “Intermodal Container Rate Reduction Program,” which offers a 10 percent discount to the terminal operators on wharfage fees payable to the Port of Long Beach for all additional rail-hauled containers. This year, the incentive could amount to up to $5.8 million in fees that industry won’t have to pay.

Meanwhile, ocean carriers are offered the “Intermodal Ocean Common Carrier Incentive Program,” which gives a $20 per TEU incentive on each additional rail-hauled container over an established baseline.

The port also offers dramatic discounts on dockage fees to vessel operators in exchange for slowing down to 12 knots near the harbor.

In 2009, the Green Flag Program had been offering 15 and 25 percent discounts for ships that slow an entire year from 20 nautical miles and 40 nm, respectively. With the addition in 2010 of the “Green-40” program, ships that slow from 40 nm can earn up to a 50 percent discount on dockage. These incentives could add up to $5 million in 2010. In addition, the Port of Long Beach has also opted to postpone until at least 2012 the start of the “Infrastructure Cargo Fee,” which was first proposed to start in 2009.

The port’s 10-year, $3 billion modernization program includes projects such as the proposed replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge with a new $1.1 billion span. The new bridge would be higher to allow additional clearance for ships, and would also be wider, to ease the flow of cars and trucks that use the bridge.

The Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project would see the modernization of two aging shipping terminals, adding on-dock rail capacity and shore power hookups, and allowing the new terminal to move twice the cargo with half the air pollution. 

Groundbreaking on phase I construction is expected for late 2010. The Port is also modernizing the ITS container terminal, with construction underway on a new terminal administration complex, maintenance and repair facility and on-dock rail yard. Shore power facilities and additional dock space are also being added.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Port have begun a $40 million dredging project to aid navigation in and around the Port of Long Beach, safely contain contaminated sediments and recycle the dredge material as fill in the Pier G modernization project.

The port also will propose the Pier S container terminal – a new terminal at the Port of Long Beach on existing vacant land. The terminal would cost about $650 million to construct, and would be built with the latest in clean-air technology and cargo-movement efficiencies.

Also in the works is a proposed On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which would redevelop an existing rail yard and to remove rail bottlenecks in the Port. The facility would allow additional on-dock rail use at the Port, reducing truck trips. Port staff is currently developing the draft environmental impact report on the proposal.

The Port of Los Angeles: Incentives and Infrastructure

Throughout the economic downturn, the Port of Los Angeles has been expanding and upgrading infrastructure while also helping its customers weather the economic storm.

The port currently has half a billion dollars in construction projects underway, and collectively those projects will create more than 8,000 one-year equivalent construction jobs.

Among the highlights: The port has started construction on major terminal expansion projects for TraPac and China Shipping. China Shipping was a difficult container terminal expansion project to get approved, and after it’s completed, the Port of Los Angles promises it will be the world’s greenest container terminal, with 35 additional acres and a new wharf by 2014. TraPac is also in the midst of a major expansion/upgrade, with 60 additional acres, on-dock rail and a new wharf slated for completion in 2015.

Work is underway for the Environmental Impact Report to expand the APL Terminal by 40 additional acres and a new wharf at Pier 300. The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has approved a future supertanker terminal for Plains All American, and the final phase of a decade-long channel-deepening project promises to provide every container terminal at the Port of Los Angeles with clearance to accommodate the world’s largest container ships. With more than 1,600 acres of container terminal backland, 113 miles of rail on Port property handling more than 100 trains daily, the Port of Los Angeles moves more containers than any other port in the nation.

To address economic realities, the port is offering customers aggressive and creative discounts, incentives, rent price breaks and reduced fees. The discounts and incentives created in 2009 and this year mean the port will forego close to $42 million in revenue. The current program includes a temporary 6 percent rent reduction for container terminal operators as well as an empty container discount and reduced rates for containerized cargo transferred from one vessel to another within the Port.

San Francisco Initiatives

The Port of San Francisco has recently undertaken a number of initiatives to maintain and enhance its competitive position among West Coast ports.

On the passenger cruise side, the Port of San Francisco is moving forward with the development of a new modern Cruise Terminal to better meet the current needs of cruise lines and passengers as well as the expected increase in future cruise business.

The Port will convert the Pier 27 shed into a year-round Cruise Terminal and community facility that will meet the evolved security and passenger handling demands of the cruise industry while also being configured to allow recreation and special event uses when not occupied for cruise purposes. Shoreside power hook-up, gray and black-water connections, storm water management, and employee public transportation options will allow efficient and clean ongoing operations.

In an effort to grow its ship repair business, the Port of San Francisco, Princess Cruises, and the Port’s shipyard operator – BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair – completed a major upgrade of the Port’s larger drydock, making it the only commercial facility on the US West Coast able to accommodate post-Panamax ships. The $5 million enhancement project was completed in 2008, and the 13-day drydocking of the Star Princess at Pier 70 that fall was the first of expected regular visits by mega-liners, creating hundreds of jobs for the region’s ten maritime trade unions.

The Port of San Francisco is also improving its cargo infrastructure in an effort to attract new business. Last year the Port completed its Illinois Street Intermodal Bridge project, providing direct rail access to its Pier 80 general cargo terminal for breakbulk and project cargo commodities such as windmill parts that require rail transport. The Port is currently undertaking development of a bulk export facility at Pier 96 to take advantage of it 40-foot water depth and rail access for the export of iron ore and other bulk products destined primarily to Asian markets.

A New Model at Oakland

In response to the rapidly changing business climate, the Port of Oakland embarked upon a complete review of its construction model, operations and finances, including the structure of the Port itself. Where the port had a traditional role as a development agency responsible for financing, planning, and building major marine cargo facilities and infrastructure, it now will serve as an investment partner and landlord. This partnership development model is now being employed to redevelop the Outer Harbor Terminal area and the former Oakland Army Base (OAB) at Oakland.

The Port of Oakland is currently in an exclusive negotiating agreement with a private entity in redeveloping the OAB as a long-term concession for maritime support development and rail. Oakland is also considering adding transload facilities, which would allow importers the flexibility and cost efficiencies of sorting their international cargo and redistributing it domestically via rail or truck. Conversely, exporters can use these facilities to consolidate cargo from various origins via rail and truck and ship to overseas markets.

Improvements over the Donner Summit were completed in late 2009 creating the ability to send trains as long as 9,000 feet and double stacked over the Sierras. Similar rail improvements over the Tehachapis are very close to completion, and these improvements are expected to lead to greater opportunities for movement of Inland Point Interior cargo from Oakland into America’s heartland.

Another critical project has been the deepening of the Oakland harbor so that it can accommodate the newer, larger containerships. The project was substantially completed in September 2009.

Additionally, the Port of Oakland is among six US West Coast ports that are working together to encourage a national freight-movement program with dedicated funding; establishing the position of an assistant secretary for freight movement at the Department of Transportation; and guaranteeing ports access to existing funding programs that don’t currently allow ports to apply.

New Partners for Portland

Portland says its efforts to attract new service, upgrade infrastructure and reconsider the operating model for its container terminal are paying off. The Port is starting to see the “green shoots” of economic recovery — freight volumes are returning, tonnage is up, vessel calls are up, and the Port has announced some encouraging news in recent weeks.

In mid-May, Port of Portland Commissioners approved a 25-year lease of the Port’s Terminal 6 container and breakbulk facilities to International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI), the fourth largest independent container terminal operator in the world. The company operates 18 terminals in 13 countries, and Portland will be their first in the United States.

The Port of Portland also restored business connections along with direct access to Japan, with last month’s announcement of a new container service offered by Westwood Shipping Lines starting on July 11. This monthly service provides direct access to five ports in Japan and one in South Korea, which answers an immediate need for regional exporters and especially those located upriver from Portland. A six-month initial agreement with an option to extend for an additional year provides potential to increase the frequency and capacity of the service.

Port officials say that both the ICTSI and Westwood announcements can be attributed, at least in part, to the pending completion of the long-standing channel improvement project in the Columbia River. The 20-year effort to deepen the navigation channel from 40 to 43 feet is now in the home stretch, and that project will be completed by the end of the year.

Several key infrastructure projects are also nearing the finish line, including more than $500 million in capital investments such as improvements to facilities and the roads, rail and runways that they depend on. These include crane modernization, berth improvements, road widening, new rail yards and overcrossings to improve velocity for trucks and trains. Completing these projects while business was slow yielded cost savings, minimized disruption to regular operations, and put the Port in a position to maximize its growth potential as the economy rebounds.

Vancouver (USA) Remaining Competitive

The Port of Vancouver USA has employed a variety of strategies to weather the economic storm, including the diversification of its bulk, breakbulk, auto, wind energy and project cargo base to mitigate fluctuations in the global and regional marketplace. Even with 100 fewer ship calls than the previous year, the port’s 2009 cargo mix managed record revenues by balancing supply and demand.

The port’s United Grain Harvest elevator exported 3.2 million metric tons (mt) as global droughts eased and the US dollar dropped. As the leading wind energy importer in the US, the port imported a record volume of more than 2,700 pieces of wind turbine components.

While the port’s liquid and dry bulk cargos fluctuated, they were balanced by increased scrap metal exports and biofuels.

As breakbulk cargos related to the construction industry substantially decreased in 2009, the port balanced revenues by handling increased variety of project cargo.

During the past 18 months, the Port of Vancouver purchased its second mobile harbor crane, increasing capacity for heavy project cargo lifts. The two Liebherr heavy lift mobile harbor cranes are the largest of their kind in North America, with a single crane capacity of 140 mt, and tandem picks up to 280 mt. The cranes have allowed the port to continue to diversify its cargo mix while building a niche as a premier heavy lift port and attracting large module projects. A key to the port’s future maritime growth is the West Vancouver Freight Access rail project.

This $137 million project will provide increased unit train capacity at the port, while directly increasing velocity and capacity on the class one mainlines in the Pacific Northwest. 

Competitive rail access is important to the port’s wind energy, bulk, auto and breakbulk customers, as they have increased their intermodal use. The port plans to grow its rail volumes from nearly 60,000 to 160,000 cars per year, and will complete construction this June on a loop track system capable of handling full unit trains. Once complete, the project will provide a 40 percent reduction in delay, while nearly tripling the port’s rail capacity. The project includes dual service from BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad and is scheduled to be complete by 2017.

Another key asset to the port’s short and long-term success is the recent purchase of 218 acres of deep draft and unit train-served maritime and heavy industrial land, located on a former aluminum smelter site. Within two weeks of purchasing this key property, wind energy imports began to be stored at what is now the new Terminal 5. The port is working to attract bulk and other cargoes for the site, and the port’s longer-term development includes nearly 450 acres of maritime and heavy industrial reserves, called the Columbia Gateway property. 

Meeting Customer’s Needs at the Port of Longview

Business at the Port of Longview continues to thrive, with the port posting two consecutive record revenue years in 2008 and 2009.

“Our customer service is as important as our cargo handling services,” says Director of Marketing Valerie Harris. “We strive to exceed our customer’s expectations by supporting their business every way we can, which often includes creating new services and solutions to support unique situations.”

The Port of Longview’s cargo handling equipment has been augmented by the recent acquisition of a mobile harbor crane and reach stacker. The port’s ability to modify existing equipment, along with the versatility of existing cargo handling equipment, such as wind energy transporters that can be used for different types of components, offers the flexibility to meet diverse cargo demands. The port continuously evaluates equipment needs based on the existing fleet, current tonnages and cargo prospects.

Longview has embarked on facility improvements and expansion that allow the Port to work many types of cargo simultaneously, with optimal flexibility. Increased lay-down capacity enables the Port to offer temporary and long-term storage options, and recently added areas allow customers to perform retrofitting, maintenance and other value-added services offered by the port. These include connecting customers with local contractors and businesses that provide specialized products or services, and the employment of steady labor that specializes in trade-related services, such as welding and cutting. Other value-added services offered by the port include inventory management, Foreign Trade Zone/Customs, material inspections and testing, scrapping, cargo damage prevention and tarping, cargo cleaning and cargo preparation/packaging/container stuffing services.

Among other benefits the Port can now tout its location on the newly deep-draft Columbia River. The Columbia River Channel Improvement Project to deepen the navigation channel from 40 feet to 43 feet is nearly complete, and allows the port to make the best of its location near Interstate 5 and both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe main rail lines.

Increasing Efficiency at Tacoma

A series of recent container shipping line developments are helping give Tacoma’s container business a more positive outlook for 2010 and beyond. In March, Horizon Lines extended its agreement to call at APM Terminals in Tacoma for at least six more years. In April, “K” Line started bringing larger, 5,200-TEU ships to Tacoma for its K-PNW service. In May, Evergreen Line resumed its UAM service through Tacoma.

While Tacoma expects overall container volumes to be down again for 2010, Alaska volumes, which account for about a third of the Port’s container business, should outpace the Port’s international volumes.

Intermodal rail facilities play a key role in the port’s overall marketing strategy and its position as a gateway port for import containers. March was a record month for intermodal container traffic through Tacoma, with combined international and domestic volumes up 20 percent, the highest volume in 18 months.

Two of the major reasons for this increase are Union Pacific’s domestic intermodal service at the port’s South Intermodal Yard and the port’s short-haul rail incentive program, which offers incentives to shippers moving containers within a 400-mile vicinity of the Port.

On the real estate side, the Port is working to increase the utilization of existing Port land and warehouse space. In September 2009, the Port Commission approved a lease with The North West Company (NWC) for a 100,000-square-foot warehouse at the Port. NWC, which is based in Winnipeg, Canada, is the parent company of AC Value Center (AC), the largest retailer in rural Alaska. AC has 33 combination food, general merchandise and Quickstop stores In January, VersaCold Logistics Services started construction of a new 200,000-square-foot cold-storage facility, which will open in July in the Port area.

Cooperative Efforts at the Port of Seattle

In an effort to remain competitive during the economic downturn, Seattle put together a customer recovery program that reduced and deferred some fees terminal operators paid to the port. In exchange for near-term financial relief, the terminal operators agreed to help implement the port’s Clean Truck Program.

That program goes into effect January 1, 2011. On that date, only trucks with 1994 or newer engines will be permitted to enter Seattle’s container terminals.

From the From the Puget Sound Air Emissions Inventory, conducted in 2006 and the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy (unveiled in 2007) to the specific programs devised to reduce air emissions, the port has worked with customers and partners develop solutions that meet the needs of business while protecting the environment. The Port of Seattle has implemented these solutions without adding unnecessary fees or regulatory requirements. 

Seattle’s Clean Truck Program, for instance, is not funded by fees on containers. Instead, the port and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) partnered to provide drayage truck owners with $5,000 or blue book value (whichever is higher) to turn in pre-1994 trucks for scrapping. To date more than 170 trucks have been scrapped and over 150 have been replaced with trucks that meet the 2011 standard.

PSCAA also partners with the Port on the At-Berth Clean Fuels (ABC Fuels) program, which provides vessel operators with a $2,250 per call incentive to burn fuel with a sulfur content of 0.5 percent or less while at berth in Seattle.

More than 60 vessels, or about 35 percent of the ships calling regularly at the port, participate in ABC Fuels. Participating carriers have included APL, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), Evergreen Line, Hapag Lloyd, Hamburg Süd, Maersk Line, Matson Navigation, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruise Line. ABC Fuels has eliminated more than 87 tons of sulfur dioxide since the program began in January 2009.

The Port of Seattle is extending its collaborative approach to partners up and down the West Coast through the West Coast Container Ports Collaboration. The group includes the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. Together, the partners are working to market the West Coast to shippers in the face of growing competition and influence decision makers on funding for major transportation projects.

Everett Infrastructure

The Port of Everett continues to focus on making its facilities more marketable by investing in infrastructure. One of the projects underway is the construction of a new rail-loading ramp at its terminal facilities.

The 70-ton ramp supports cargo operations by aiding in the loading and unloading of wheeled cargo, such as military tanks, farming and mining equipment, onto and from rail cars. Certified welders on the Port’s Marine Terminals maintenance crew constructed the ramp to meet US Military design specifications.

The Port of Everett’s facilities handle a wide variety of ro/ro cargo, including heavy machinery for the construction and mining industry, as well as heavy equipment for the farming industry. 

A new rail line is also in the works, thanks to the port’s securing of $1.168 million in federal funds to construct 2,500 lineal feet of rail to help the region recover in the event of a disaster. The Port of Everett’s shipping terminals have been identified as a base of operations to directly support regional recovery and reconstruction efforts in the event of a regional man-made or natural disaster, due to its geographical location in the event of an eruption from Mount Rainier or a man-made disaster at the ports of Seattle or Tacoma. An eruption from Mount Rainier would essentially shut down the ports of Olympia, Tacoma and some of Seattle.

A $1.168 million Federal Transportation Appropriation, a $1.2 million Department of Homeland Security Grant and a Washington State Rail Bank Loan in the amount of $700,000 fund the rail project. The Port has already begun construction of the new rail line, which is expected to be ready for use later this year.

The Port of Everett is also pursuing funding opportunities to rejuvenate its 27-acre South Terminal shipping facility. The South Terminal facility was constructed in the 1970s to handle log exports, and weight restrictions prevent the facility from being used to its full potential.