Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stockton/West Sacramento Barge Project Receives Further Government Funds

The California inland port at Stockton has received another infusion of cash to complete a plan that will shift hundreds of truck-borne containers a week from area freeways to barges shuttling between Stockton and the Port of Oakland.

The Port of Stockton's so-called marine highway project, which also includes barge service to the further-inland West Sacramento port, received a $750,000 grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District last week.

While air quality agencies like SJVAPC typically invest in programs that replace or improve direct sources of pollution, like truck engines, the prospect of eliminating up to 600 truck trips a week from the Oakland-Stockton/West Sacramento route was enough to garner the new funds. The federal government has already pitched in $30 million for the project, which is expected to begin operation in early 2012.

Under the plan, the Stockton port – located about 75 miles inland from San Francisco Bay – will install two 140-ton gantry cranes to load and unload the two weekly barge trips. The barge, which can carry up to 350 containers, would travel along the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel that connects the Stockton/West Sacramento ports with the Bay Area.

The target is to reduce emission generated by the more than 1,600 daily truck trips between the Central Valley ports and Oakland.

In addition to the gantry cranes, the Stockton port will also see the construction of a container staging area dedicated to the barge service. In West Sacramento, the project calls for the installation of a gantry crane and the construction of a distribution center. The Oakland port will receive funds through the project to install "ship-to-shore" power at several berths. Ship-to-shore power systems allow vessel operators to shut down an ocean-going vessel’s auxiliary diesel engines while in port, dramatically cutting the per-call emissions generated.