Thursday, December 8, 2011

Port of Stockton to Launch Barge Service

The Port of Stockton is starting a barge service to move containers along the Sacramento River that are too heavy for highway transit. The project is due to launch in in February 2012.

The M-580 Marine Highway, as the port is calling it, would travel between the port and Oakland. It is so named because it would be parallel to Interstate 580, the corridor that many truckers use to transport goods to and from the ports.

The barge service could potentially save shippers money in transport costs, since it would allow containers to be loaded in excess of California’s highway weight limit of 22 metric tons.

Funding for the project comes partially from the U.S. Department of Transportation. In February 2010, the port received a $13 million federal grant to buy two 140-ton mobile harbor cranes and to make needed infrastructure improvements to support the container-on-barge project.

The port has already purchased two cranes and two barges for the project; the cranes are scheduled for January delivery and the barges are scheduled to undergo modifications in early 2012 to enable them to handle cargo containers.

The port has hired Savage Companies, a Salt Lake City-based supply chain solutions business, to provide various support functions, including management, logistics, marketing and operating services. Savage says it has already begun marketing the barge service to potential customers.

The port says it also expects the route to reduce freeway traffic and help improve regional air quality. It’s estimated that about 1,600 containers per day move between the Stockton and Oakland ports along I-580, which is one of the state’s most congested freeways.