Friday, June 14, 2013

M-580: California's Marine Highway

For the better part of the past decade, California’s major seaports have sought ways to deal with the ever-growing problem of highway traffic congestion and the resulting increase in air pollution caused partially by port growth. Some ports – those in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, among them – have instituted comprehensive programs designed to cut down emissions from the drayage trucks that haul goods to and from the docks.
Others, such as the Port of San Diego, focus more on environmental initiatives such as the conservation and restoration of plant and animal life in the surrounding areas.
But the Port of Stockton, an inland deepwater port about 75 miles northeast of Oakland and 50 miles south of the Port of West Sacramento, has launched a new venture that not only addresses truck traffic and air pollution, but also helps grow business and increase revenue: the M-580 Marine Highway.
“This is a goods movement program to alleviate congestion and parallel one very well used and over-used highway corridor. The M-580 is the Marine 580,” Port of Stockton Deputy Director Mark Tollini explained.
The $30 million M-580 Marine Highway project, a public/private partnership funded through a US Maritime Administration grant and the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act – better known as the federal stimulus bill – consists of a barge system conveying goods between the ports of Stockton and Oakland. The system, which has been in the planning for years, was finally launched in May.
It was devised as a solution to an increasing problem: the system of transferring containers to and from the Port of Oakland to the Central Valley by road has become increasingly problematic, with one of the main reasons being that full and empty containers carried by drayage trucks have been moving at a snail’s pace up and down the ever-crowded Interstate 580. Transportation studies have shown that the 75-mile freeway, which is where the M-580 gets its name, is one of the most congested thoroughfares in not only California, but the entire US.
An increased movement of freight by water could help to alleviate the situation. About 3.4 million tons of waterborne cargo, mainly bulk goods, reportedly moved through the Port of Stockton via the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel and San Joaquin River in recent years, underscoring the potential capacity of this waterway system.
It’s estimated that about 1,600 containers per day now move between the Stockton and Oakland ports along I-580, which is one of California’s most congested freeways. The Port of Stockton says the barge service could potentially save shippers time as well as money in transport costs, since it would allow containers to be loaded in excess of California’s highway weight limit of 22 metric tons.
“Our barge application’s been around for years and years and years, but it started to make more sense in the last several years as highway congestion, particularly here between the San Joaquin Valley and the Port of Oakland and Sacramento got to a point where it was essentially heavy traffic, inefficient methods of delivery, long delays on the highway that were contributing to not only the inefficiencies but the logistics system, also air quality issues, safety issues, that sort of thing,” Tollini explained.
“It started making sense that there could be another way that was equally serviceable, affordable and would take advantage of underutilized transportation quarters, such as water. So when the concept was embraced by the federal government, it was at that time that we were able to seriously go about putting together a project and scoping it out and bringing it to reality,” Tollini said.
Of the project’s $30 million total price tag, $13 million of the grant money has gone toward the purchase of two 140-ton mobile harbor cranes and two barges, as well as dockside improvements such as a rail extension to complete an on-dock and off-dock rail loop system and a near-dock rail-served container yard.
Also, $8.5 million was used for the electrification of berths at the Port of Oakland, which allows ships to shut down their engines and help reduce air emissions.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District also pledged about $1.5 million to support the project, seeing the potential environmental benefits.
When fully implemented, officials estimate, the M-580 could eliminate 180,000 truck trips from I-580, I-80, and I-205 freeways annually, saving about seven million gallons of fuel and reducing air emissions in the process.
In addition to potentially relieving congestion and reducing air pollution, the barge system is also expected to reduce transportation costs and free up working capital, ease scheduling and equipment shortages, create a “green” supply chain and bring jobs to the surrounding community and region.
“In addition to relieving highway congestion, it allows for a certain amount of elasticity,” Tollini said of the barge system. “We’re not going to get smaller, we’re only going to get bigger, so it allows us to accommodate anticipated future growth by utilizing the river system here as a corridor and a conduit to move goods.”
One of the other benefits is that it opens up a new goods transport corridor, he said.
“So if you’re located here within the port and you’re shipping to and from here and you have an operation here, then you can max out ... which allows us to lessen the amount of demand on the roads and lessen the oceanfront expenses associated with goods movement,” Tollini said.
But like any large-scale project, the M-580 has had its share of planning-stage hiccups. Although a groundbreaking was held in October 2010, it wasn’t until December 2011 that the Port of Stockton hired Savage Companies, a Salt Lake City-based supply chain solutions business, to provide various support functions, including management, logistics, marketing and operating services.
Stockton had hoped to launch the project in the fall of 2012, even going so far as to send out invitations for a planned inaugural event that would feature US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The event was cancelled, however, due to labor issues, mostly revolving around the details of cargo handling.
In early 2013, Savage stepped down and the port took over the leadership role, a development that Tollini has said was “consensual,” but about which he has not given specifics. In March 2013, stevedoring and terminal operations company SSA Marine was chosen by Stockton to manage the barge service terminal.
Under its contract with the port, SSA Marine provides terminal management services, marketing and logistical support for the Marine Highway, while port officials provide management oversight. SSA already operates a terminal in Oakland.
Despite the hiccups, the barge system appears to now be on the right track.
“The port is the general contractor, so we own the barges, we’ve hired the tow boats, we’ve engaged a PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) company, SSA Marine, to do stock and operations here and we’ve entered into marine terminal operators agreements down in Oakland with Ports America in the outer harbor and with SSAT down at the Oakland International Container Terminal,” Tollini said.
But now that they’ve built it, will businesses come? That remains the question. When interviewed in the days leading up to the barge service’s launch, Tollini was reluctant to reveal which companies might literally be onboard.
“Right now, we’re still in the process of reaching out to the BCOs (beneficial cargo owners) and to the general industry, including steamship lines, trucking companies, what have you,” Tollini told Pacific Maritime in late April. “We have tenants here located at the port that are already moving containers down into Oakland; I’m a little hesitant to put out names until they actually ride the barge for the first time, but we are thinking we can probably support two rotations a week, starting off.”
Also reluctant to talk specifics was SSA Marine Northern California Regional Vice President Carlos De Jesus, the person overseeing SSA’s management of the barge terminal. SSA, he said was declining to comment for now.
“Once the operation is in full motion,” he said, “we would be happy to discuss it with you.”
The completion of the Stockton to Oakland stretch is actually just Phase 1 of a two-part plan; a second phase involving the Port of West Sacramento, located about 50 miles north of Stockton, is still in the planning stages.
$8.5 million is already designated for the building of a distribution and repackaging center, as well as for the purchase of a crane for operations at West Sacramento.
No timetable has been set for the launching of Phase 2 – it all depends on the success of the initial phase. But if the port of Stockton, Oakland and West Sacramento are right, however, their gamble on a barge service will be the rare industrial project that manages to grow business while reducing air pollution and road congestion at the same time.


POLB Names Interim Deputy Director

After leaving the position open for well over a year, the Port of Long Beach is filling its number two management job, at least temporarily.

On June 12, the Long Beach Harbor Commission decided to name its own executive officer, Noel Hacegaba, to serve as the port’s interim deputy executive director. This follows on the heels of the June 7 announcement that Al Moro, the port’s chief harbor engineer, would become the interim executive director.

Moro will be filling the shoes of outgoing Executive Director Chris Lytle, who after less than two years in his current role, steps down in mid-July to take over as the head of the Port of Oakland. Lytle had been Long Beach’s executive director since November 2011, after being promoted from deputy executive director. The deputy executive director job has been vacant since Lytle’s promotion.

Hacegaba, the man who’ll be filling the deputy’s role on an interim basis currently coordinates all administrative and communications functions for the Board, makes recommendations on public policy issues, serves as a liaison with elected officials and other public agencies and coordinates trade missions and conferences.

“Noel has done an exemplary job as Executive Officer and we are confident he will provide outstanding support to Al Moro during the next several months,” Board President Susan Anderson Wise said.

“Noel will be working closely with Al and the rest of the senior management team to guide the port through the projects and initiatives that are underway. Like Al, Noel will not be a candidate for the Executive Director position.”

Hacegaba has been the Board Executive Officer since 2010. Before joining the port, he worked with environmental services company Republic Services. Earlier, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office.

The Harbor Board is scheduled to vote on the appointments of both Moro and Hacegaba during its June 17 meeting.

Since the interim appointees won’t be candidates to fill the positions permanently, Long Beach is still looking to fill five upper management vacancies. In addition to the executive director’s and deputy executive director’s jobs, the positions of Managing Director of Trade Development and Port Operations and Director of Communications, are both currently vacant. Long Beach also needs a new Managing Director of Environmental Affairs & Planning because Robert Kanter is retiring after 23 years with the Port of Long Beach.


Three More Groups Sue Over SCIG Project

On the heels of a lawsuit filed last week by the City of Long Beach, three groups have filed separate legal actions to try halting development of the $500 million Southern California International Gateway project.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, South Coast Air Quality Management District and Long Beach Unified School District all submitted anti-SCIG lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court June 7, alleging that the Port of Los Angeles didn’t conduct a full and thorough environmental review before approving the project.

The City of Long Beach made similar allegations when filing its lawsuit June 5. Long Beach and the other plaintiffs say the SCIG would adversely affect its residents, businesses and schools by bringing more noise and air pollution to an area that has already suffered plenty over the years due to nearby port-related operations.

They seek an injunction against the 153-acre project, which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in May 2013 and by the Port of Los Angeles Commission about two months before that.

If built, the BNSF-owned project would sit just outside West Long Beach, alongside the Terminal Island Freeway on land owned by the Port of LA. It would serve on-dock rail facilities at both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles.

Despite allegations that it would increase asthma and cancer rates in the West Long Beach area, BNSF contends that if built, the SCIG would reduce truck traffic, freeway congestion and air pollution by eliminating about 1.3 million truck trips annually along a 24-mile stretch of the Long Beach 710 Freeway to BNSF’s Hobart Yard near downtown LA.

Originally, construction was due to begin later this year and open in 2016, but that plan could be delayed or scrapped altogether depending on the status of the legal actions against it.


New Bulk Goods Terminal Opens at Port of Portland

The Archer Daniels Midland Co., commonly known as ADM, has opened a new terminal at the Port of Portland for transferring liquid and dry bulk sweetener products from railcars to trucks for delivery to food customers in the Northwest U.S.

The new terminal, which will handle corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, starches and dry and liquid sugar, includes four truck-loading bays, tanks for making custom-blended products, melting tanks to liquefy dry sucrose and a 32,000-square-foot warehouse.

The new facility replaces the company’s former McLoughlin Boulevard operation, which was built in 1945 and handled more than 200 million pounds of product per year. A portion of the land that housed the former location was claimed under eminent domain in 2010 by the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon as part of the Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Project.

“This new sweetener terminal will expand our warehousing and sweetener handling capabilities in the area,” ADM President of Sweeteners & Starches Chris Cuddy said. “The location provides us with access to the major railroads in the area and is well-positioned to serve our customers throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

ADM says all of the former operation’s 13 employees will work at the new facility, which is located on a 20-acre parcel on Rivergate Boulevard in the Rivergate Industrial District.


Pacific Northwest Ports Update Clean Air Strategy

The ports in Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, British Columbia say they’re setting goals to reduce diesel emissions by 75 percent per ton of cargo by 2015 and 80 percent by 2020 and that combined with projected cargo growth, this could result in overall reductions of 70 percent by 2015 and 75 percent by 2020.

The goals are part of the draft 2013 update of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy released June 11.

The 2013 update was developed based on the results of the 2011 Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory released in October 2012. The inventory found maritime-related air pollution has decreased since 2005, with much of the progress due to voluntary investments of the maritime industry and government agencies in cleaner technology, cleaner fuels and more efficient systems of operation.

“The good news is that emissions are down and in this strategy update we are setting more aggressive goals for the near future,” Port of Seattle Director of Environmental and Planning Stephanie Jones Stebbins said. “The draft Strategy Update includes both aggressive reduction goals and sector-specific actions to meet those goals.”

To develop and implement the 2007 strategy and 2013 strategy update, the three ports partnered with other government agencies responsible for protecting air quality in the airshed: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington State Department of Ecology, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Environment Canada and the political body Metro Vancouver.

The airshed centers on the marine area known as the Salish Sea and includes the greater Puget Sound area as well as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, Rosario Strait and other nearby waterways.

The ports are accepting public comments on the draft strategy through July 26 via open houses, in-person, mail and online.

Comments can be submitted to the Port of Tacoma online at or by mail at Port of Tacoma, P.O. Box 1837, Tacoma, WA 98401. More information is available at

Comments can also be submitted to the Port of Seattle by email at or in writing at PO Box 1209, Seattle WA 98111.

The draft plan can be viewed at



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Workforce Development

In the 1967 movie The Graduate, a young Dustin Hoffman is told by one of the characters that plastics are the industry of the future. Today’s graduates, faced with the prospect of competing for a dozen jobs with a hundred of their peers, should consider the maritime industry. The Pacific Northwest maritime community offers quite a few programs to entice young people into maritime fields.

Seattle’s Friends of Maritime recently held a successful 15th-annual Maritime Career Day on May 7th at Bell Harbor Pier during the Seattle Maritime Festival week. The day was dedicated to introducing students to career opportunities and offering companies with entry-level jobs the opportunity to connect with post-high school job seekers.

As many as 700 students and job seekers interacted with industry representatives from a wide spectrum of maritime fields including commercial fishing, passenger vessel operations, tug and barge services, steamship lines, diving and salvage and shipyards.

The success of the annual Seattle event has led to a similar event to be offered in Tacoma, Washington the last week of September this fall.

The Youth Maritime Training Association (YMTA), led by Gary Stauffer, has a presence at as many high school career fairs as possible, representing a wide number marine careers. The YMTA staff is on hand to answer questions and the YMTA booth offers flyers and pamphlets from many training institutions, including community colleges, 4-year colleges, private training programs and maritime academies. Stauffer has also been involved with the Seattle King County workforce development council to develop a Maritime Career Pathway website: YMTA also sponsors ten high school programs that offer marine experiences to students.

In addition to helping maritime students chart the right course, there are financial programs to help them realize their goals. Last month six Washington State high school seniors were awarded 2013 YMTA and Pacific Maritime Magazine Scholarships in the ninth annual Norm Manly Youth Maritime Training Association (YMTA) Maritime Educational Scholarship competition.

Since 1987 Pacific Maritime Magazine has sponsored the Pacific Maritime Magazine scholarship to young men and women hoping to pursue a career in the maritime industry, and the recipient of the 2013 Pacific Maritime Magazine scholarship is Stefan Sorenson, a Lake Stevens High School student who will enter California Maritime Academy this fall. New this year, Pacific Maritime Magazine will host a summer intern, Emily Keyes, a cadet at the California Maritime Academy majoring in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.

The future economic vitality of our industry lies with an educated and engaged workforce. Programs like the Maritime Career Day, the YMTA and the Pacific Maritime Magazine scholarship are vital to ensure that young people with the passion to enter the maritime industry have the resources to live that passion.

Other Shores

When I introduce myself to mariners on the West Coast, I invariably hear the same comment: “I love your magazine – especially the part at the back, Hugh Ware’s column. That’s the first thing I turn to.”

It is with sadness that we publish the final column from our dear friend Hugh, who died shortly after he filed his piece. His wife Joan tells me he loved writing the column, and wanted to keep it going until the very end, and so he did. We were fortunate to have known Hugh, and he will be missed by this editor and his many fans worldwide.

Interim Director Named at Port of Long Beach

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners announced on June 7 that Al Moro, the port’s Chief  Harbor Engineer would be the interim executive director, filling in for Chris Lytle, who announced on May 23 that he was leaving the Port of Long Beach to head the Port of Oakland.

“We have unanimously selected Al Moro as our interim executive director,” Board of Harbor Commissioners President Susan Anderson Wise said. “He is highly respected by all of the commissioners, very well regarded in our industry and well-liked by the port staff.”

Moro, who joined the port in 1997 as a civil engineer, currently oversees all administrative and technical activities for its engineering programs, including nearly $4 billion in capital improvement projects.

As chief harbor engineer, Moro has overseen all administrative and technical activities for the port’s four engineering divisions, including construction management. He supervised 135 engineers, surveyors, technicians, and support staff, and managed the port’s extensive capital improvement program, including the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

Moro’s appointment goes into effect following a formal vote on June 17, said Wise.

“I am honored to have been selected by the Board of Harbor Commissioners to serve as interim director,” Moro commented. “A major goal of mine will be to provide stability and continuity during the transition. It’s important that we continue to move forward with all of our projects.”

Moro has said he would not be a candidate for the permanent position.

Lytle is expected to remain at Long Beach until mid-July and is scheduled to begin his new job in Oakland shortly thereafter. His imminent departure means that the Port of Long Beach will have five upper management vacancies to fill. In addition to the executive director’s job, the positions of Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, Managing Director of Trade Development and Port Operations, and Director of Communications, are all currently vacant. Also, Long Beach’s Managing Director of Environmental Affairs & Planning, Robert Kanter, is retiring after 23 years with the Port of Long Beach.



Foss Vessels Recognized with Safety Awards

Eighty-one Foss tugs and manned barges were recognized by the Chamber of Shipping of America for commitment to safety and granted Jones F. Devlin Awards during the CSA’s Annual Safety Awards Luncheon in New Orleans on May 23.

Altogether, the Foss vessels achieved the equivalent of 463 years without a lost-time injury.

The Jones F. Devlin Safety Awards are given to self-propelled merchant vessels that have operated for two full years or more without a crewmember losing a full turn at watch because of an occupational injury.

“We’re proud of the men and women who work hard to earn Foss this prestigious recognition,” Foss Chief Executive Officer Paul Stevens said.

Three levels of achievement are recognized by CSA: a basic two-year award; a three-year award; and a four-year award. Of Foss’ 81-awarded vessels, 47 received a special award that is given annually to ships with five or more years of accident-free operation.

The Devlin award has publicly recognized the skills and dedication of the men and women who are responsible for those safe vessel operations for 55 years.

The Washington, D.C.-based Chamber represents 37 US-based companies that own, operate or charter oceangoing tankers, container ships and other merchant vessels engaged in both the domestic and international trades and other entities that maintain a commercial interest in the operation of such oceangoing vessels.

Seventy-three Crowley Maritime Corp. vessels received Devlin awards during the same luncheon.

“This year, we gave awards to 1,438 vessels that operated 8,394 years without a lost-time incident,” CSA President Joseph J. Cox said. “This extraordinary record is directly attributable to the professionalism of our seafarers and the dedication of shore-based company personnel to safe operation.”


LA Port Adopts Billion Dollar Budget

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has adopted a 2013-14 fiscal year budget of about $1.1 billion for the Port of Los Angeles, including one of the largest annual capital improvement programs in port history.

About $400 million -- or 37% of the total budget – is allotted for capital improvement. Over 8,500 jobs, 6,870 of which are attributable to construction project spending in the coming fiscal year are also supported by the budget.

The Port of Los Angeles’ new fiscal year begins July 1.

“Developing and maintaining a world-class infrastructure is, and continues to be, the overarching strategic priority for the Port of Los Angeles,” Harbor Commission President Cindy Miscikowski said. “Capital improvements and improved efficiency are essential if we’re to maximize cargo flow as well as maintain our position as the nation’s number one container port.”

The capital spending budget earmarks more than $380 million for container terminal and transportation upgrades, including over $99 million at the TraPac container terminal for backland improvements to support future terminal automation as well as construction of a facility to provide on-dock rail capabilities, which will result in all Port of L.A. container terminals equipped with on-dock rail.

Also included is almost $96 million for the installation of electrical power stations at major container terminals including APMT, APL, Evergreen, Yang Ming and China Shipping. The stations reduce emissions from container vessels by using shore side power instead of running on diesel power.

The budget also calls for $41.5 million in construction at China Shipping Terminal, which includes completion of 375 linear feet of expanded wharf and backland improvements; and about $78 million related to construction at the Berth 200 rail yard, a piece of the port’s overall goods movement plan to facilitate more fuel-efficient, faster and safer rail operations throughout the complex.

The newly adopted budget also includes operating revenues of $413 million, an increase of just 3.1 % over the previous fiscal year. Also, proposed operating expenses are slightly lower by 1.9% to $209.1 million.



Oakland Port Closes Escrow on Waterfront Development

On June 10, the Port of Oakland and California State Lands Commission closed escrow on a 64-acre waterfront site the Port of Oakland intends to redevelop for non-maritime use. The port has been in contract to sell and lease the site, which is alternately known as the Brooklyn Basin and “Oak-to-Ninth” project, for over a decade.

“We are excited to close escrow on this unique waterfront property that has long been unfeasible for future maritime use for the port,” Oakland Board of Port Commissioners President Gilda Gonzales said. “This redevelopment will transform property that is no longer needed for maritime use into a wonderful new neighborhood for Oakland.”

The $1.5 billion development plan includes over 30 acres of parks and public open spaces located immediately adjacent to Oakland’s waterfront.

“We are thrilled to see the long-term vision for redevelopment coming to fruition. Oakland's Brooklyn Basin will become a beautiful new neighborhood and open space asset for the city and the region as this property is transformed into a new mixed-use residential community,” Port of Oakland Commercial Real Estate Director Pamela Kershaw said.

Oakland-based Signature Development Group and its investment partner Beijing-based Zarsion Holdings Group Co. will create the new neighborhood at the Oakland waterfront.

The area will include residential buildings that will create more than 3,000 homes and 200,000 square feet of retail space, along with two renovated recreational marinas, Signature President Mike Ghielmetti said.

The Brooklyn Basin project is expected to generate 10,000 short- and long-term jobs.