Tuesday, September 24, 2013

LA Port Scraps Cargo Fee

The Port of Los Angeles has decided to eliminate a container fee that was created – but never implemented – in 2008 to help finance major rail, highway and bridge improvement projects.

The infrastructure cargo fee (ICF), which would have varied from $6 to $18 per 20-foot equivalent container unit, would have been assessed on all loaded containers entering and leaving the port by truck or rail. The fee was formally revoked by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners Sept. 19.

“It is time to take this fee off the books for good,” port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said. “The fact that we never collected it illustrates how the port successfully sought funding from other sources – specifically grants – in order to develop port infrastructure in a responsible manner that makes sense for all our stakeholders and preserve our competitive advantage.”

The ICF was added to the tariff the same year the Port was developing its Clean Truck Program and related channels to finance conversion of the private fleet of mostly older and more polluting drayage trucks that called at port terminals. It was initially established to help fund key infrastructure projects that would reduce traffic congestion, improve the flow of cargo and cut air pollution.

The fee was expected to begin in 2009 and raise $1.4 billion in order to secure matching state transportation funds for the design and construction of 17 specific highway and rail construction projects throughout the harbor district. But when the economy began to slide into a deep recession, the port put the ICF on hold and pursued other federal, state and regional grants to advance its projects.
Over time, the port managed to secure 55 percent of more than $313 million needed to pay for four capital projects now being built or due to begin construction by January 2014. The port’s funding the remaining 45 percent itself.

Among the projects moving forward are the Berth 200 Railyard, the South Wilmington Grade Separation and two freeway interchanges. Of the 13 remaining projects that the ICF was intended to support throughout the harbor complex, five projects may not be needed before 2025 and can be deferred, according to the port.