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Friday, November 1, 2013

Federal Freight Infrastructure Improvement Study Released

Significant investment is needed in the US freight transportation system, according to a newly released House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee panel report that was compiled over the course of six months.

Eleven members of Congress from across the US signed off on the bipartisan, 100-plus page report, which includes a number of recommendations.

Specifically, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation recommends that Congress:

Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, to establish a comprehensive national freight transportation policy and designate a national, multimodal freight network.

Incentivize additional private investment in freight transportation facilities in order to maintain and improve the condition and performance of the freight transportation network.

Promote and expedite the development and delivery of projects and activities that improve and facilitate the efficient movement of goods.

Authorize dedicated, sustainable funding for multimodal freight “projects of national and regional significance” through a grant process and establish clear benchmarks for project selection. Projects eligible for such funding would have a regional or national impact on the overall performance of the multimodal freight network identified by the Secretary of Transportation.

Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Army, to identify and recommend sustainable sources of revenue across all modes of transportation that would provide the necessary investment in the country’s multimodal freight network and align contributions with use of, and expected benefit of increased investment in, such network.

Review the freight funding and revenue recommendations and develop specific funding and revenue options for freight transportation projects prior to Congress’ consideration of the surface transportation reauthorization bill in 2014.

“As a representative of a port community and co-founder of the Congressional Ports Caucus, I am pleased that the final report includes recommendations that encourage ports and intermodal facilities to maximize efficiency through off-peak cargo movement, supports full-utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and urges Congress to require critical freight infrastructure operators to develop cyber vulnerability assessments and incident response plans,” Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), who represents an area that includes the Port of Los Angeles, said during an Oct. 29 press conference on the report.

The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation convened in April 2013 and members served for a period of six months before issuing the recommendations. The panel’s six Republicans and five Democrats were tasked with examining the current state of freight transportation and how improving the system would affect the U.S. economy. The group traveled to several freight hubs across the nation, including the Port of Los Angeles, speaking at length with system users, carriers, and providers.

MARAD to Hold National Maritime Strategy Meeting

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is inviting marine transportation system stakeholders to participate in a January 2014 discussion to gather ideas for improving the country's cargo opportunities and sealift capacity while ensuring future sustainability.

The public meeting is planned for 9 am to 4:30 pm daily from Jan. 14 through Jan. 16, 2014 in the US Department of Transportation (DOT) West Atrium, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

The public is invited to propose agenda topics and to comment on the ideas submitted by others at http://www.regulations.gov, DOT Docket Number MARAD-2013-0101.

Proposed agenda items should focus on, but are not limited to: fostering and improving the US-flag fleet; improving transportation efficiency, speed, availability and cost-effectiveness; methods to improve overall US economic competitiveness though improvements to the Marine Transportation System; improving transportation efficiency through interoperability with existing infrastructure systems and other modes of transportation; reduction of marine transportation pollution and adverse environmental impact; expansion of the pool of skilled and available US mariners; developing strategically valuable capacity; increasing economical waterborne carriage for US businesses; improving US port operations and related businesses; improvement of global business and employment opportunities for the US; and fostering the construction and repair of vessels in US shipyards.

Written proposals for agenda items can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov. Parties must submit their input identified by DOT Docket Number MARAD-2013-0101. All submissions must include the agency name and docket number.

The public meeting will be broadcast via live streaming link from http://www.MARAD.dot.gov.
The deadline to submit agenda topics and ideas for discussion is Nov. 29, 2013. Registration for the event opens Dec. 17, 2013 and closes Jan. 3, 2014.

Grays Harbor Tenants Tout Expansion Study

A study commissioned by two tenants at the Port of Grays Harbor’s Terminal 1 has determined that proposed crude oil by rail expansions could generate hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars for the region.

Earlier this year, Terminal 1 occupants Imperium Grays Harbor and Westway Terminals hired an independent economist, ECONorthwest, to determine the economic impacts their two proposed liquid bulk expansion projects would have in relation to job creation and expanding the tax base.

Up to 231 statewide construction jobs could be created with a total labor income of $27.9 million, according to the study.

Operations at the two facilities are expected to generate 45 full-time, family wage jobs, while another 103 marine and rail services jobs would be generated by the shipment of cargo and an additional 155 indirect jobs would be supported throughout the county.

“The port recognizes the value of every job created by our tenants and the positive economic spin it has on our community,” port Commissioner Stan Pinnick said. “We welcome private investment of this magnitude, it helps support our libraries, schools, emergency medical services and other public services by expanding our local tax-base.”

Private investment of $106.9 million is the estimated investment in facilities and equipment.

Both Imperium and Westway are in the process of preparing their permits for re-submittal after their initial permits were remanded and SEPA threshold determinations invalidated by the State Shoreline’s Hearing Board in September.

More information on the projects and the Economic Impact Analysis can be found at http://www.portofgraysharbor.com/about/CBR-Project.php.

Port of LA Small Business Program Reports Strong Participation

The Port of Los Angeles Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program awarded $97.6 million in contracts to small businesses during the 2012/2013 fiscal year, according to newly released data.

Of the $97.6 million awarded in FY 2012/13, $30.8 million went to minority-owned small businesses and $21.6 million to those owned by women, according to port figures.

The port’s SBE Program was created in 2007 to provide additional opportunities for small businesses to participate in professional service and construction contracts. Of the $1.3 billion in total contracts awarded by the Port of LA over the last six fiscal years, $431.5 million, or 32 percent, has gone to small business enterprises.

While other Los Angeles City departments mandate that a contract awardee show a “good faith effort” to include small, minority or women-owned businesses, the port makes it a requirement that contract awardees include SBE participation.

Annually, the port sets an overall goal of 25 percent SBE participation, of which five percent is designated for Very Small Business Enterprises (VSBEs), a stipulation added in 2010. VSBEs are firms with three-year average gross revenues of less than $3.5 million. The port establishes SBE/VSBE requirements for each contract that it awards, except in the case of some federally funded contracts that do not allow mandatory SBE requirements.

In 2011, the port further expanded its SBE program to accept Disabled-Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) certifications, awarding two contracts to DVBEs that year totaling $154,000. In FY 2012/13, the port awarded five contracts for a total of $7.7 million to DVBEs.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Port Angeles Raising Moorage Fees,
Not Property Taxes

On a split vote, the Port of Port Angeles Commission on Oct. 28 decided not to enact a one percent annual property tax increase as allowed under state law, but did decide to increase moorage fees by 1.6 percent after not raising them last year.

The property tax vote was 2-1 against, with outgoing Commissioner Paul McHugh, who leaves the commission at year’s end, casting the lone vote for the hike. The vote for the moorage fee increase was unanimous.

The moorage rate increases are to be imposed on owners of boats ranging in length from 20 feet to 60 feet and longer at the Port Angeles Boat Haven and John Wayne Marina, and will be combined with a 1.6 percent hike based on the Consumer Price Index.

Additionally, linear footage increases will go into place for the Boat Haven, but not the Wayne Marina. The Boat Haven’s new rate will be 85 percent of the average of the 20 marinas surveyed, including the Boat Haven and marinas at Elliott Bay and Bremerton.

The vote against the property tax increase means taxpayers will continue paying the 2013 rate: 19 cents for each $1,000 of property valuation, or $38 a year on a $200,000 home. The tax increase, which would have raised about $14,000 in 2014, was also not imposed by the board in 2009, 2010 and 2012, with economic factors being cited each time as a large part of the reason.

FMC Chair Calls for P3 Alliance
Regulatory Summit

US Federal Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero has issued a call to fellow regulators in Europe and China to join with him for a global regulatory summit on the proposed P3 Global Alliance of the world’s largest container carriers, Maersk Line, CMA-CGM and Mediterranean Shipping.

The three carriers announced in June that they would begin cooperating in 2014 on routes covering Asia to Europe as well as transpacific and transatlantic routes to the United States.

Early estimates by Maersk Line’s chief trading and marketing officer put market control of such an alliance at about 42 percent on the Asia to Europe route, 24 percent on the transpacific routes, and 40 to 42 percent on the transatlantic route.

The summit, Cordero said, should take place in Washington, DC, with regulators to discuss their respective regulatory roles in considering the impact of the announced Alliance.

Indications are that the P3 network will be operated from new management offices in London and Singapore with a staff of about 200. The proposed Alliance has already named Maersk Line’s Lars Mikel Jensen as its Chief Executive Officer.

“Together with our European and Chinese counterparts, we as regulatory authorities, have responsibilities related not only to our nations, but to the global shipping structure to ensure that this proposed Alliance does not harm others, including consumers, the maritime community, and world trade,” Cordero, a former Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioner, said. “Once this agreement is filed, I envision all members of our American maritime industry – shippers, importers, exporters, consumers, ports, unions, intermodal entities – to fully express their views to the Commission in written comments or open hearings as to how this Alliance of foreign flag carriers would affect our waterborne commerce.”

Among the various concerns Cordero and other members of the Federal Maritime Commission have expressed about the proposed alliance are a reported vessel reduction once the proposed alliance is consummated; and a lack of significant filing with regulatory authorities in Europe, China or the US.

Long Beach Hosting Free Cyber Security Workshop

The Port of Long Beach is presenting a free workshop on computer security threats from 1:30 to 2:30 pm Wed., Oct. 30 as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

During the workshop, MAD Security managing partner Mike Murray will speak on the importance of the “human firewall” – everyone’s participation in cyber security.

Murray has spent more than a decade helping companies large and small to protect their information by understanding their vulnerability posture from the perspective of an attacker. With MAD Security, he leads engagements to help corporate and government customers understand and protect their security organization.

The workshop takes place in Long Beach’s Port Administration Building 6th Floor Board Room, 925 Harbor Plaza, Long Beach, CA 90802. The event will also be webcast live at www.polb.com/webcast. The webcast will also be available for viewing after the live event.

Refreshments will be served after the presentation. No RSVPs are necessary.

For more information about the workshop email CyberSecurity@polb.com. For more on the port’s participation in National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit http://www.polb.com/about/cybersecurity.asp.

Jacobsen’s Marine Moving to Port of Edmonds

Boat and motor sales company Jacobsen’s Marine is moving from its home in Seattle to the Port of Edmonds, the port revealed in an Oct. 28 announcement. Jacobsen’s signed a 30-year lease with the port Oct. 24. It includes an option to extend the deal to 50 years.

“The Port of Edmonds is the perfect fit for our business,” Jacobsen’s president, Greg Jacobsen said, “both for the boating business and saltwater sports.”

The facility is expected to be located near the Port Administration building on property currently being used as a gravel parking and storage area.

If the permitting and construction process proceeds smoothly, the facility could be open as soon as June 2014, according to the port.

Jacobsen’s Marine, which was founded in the Ballard area of northwestern Seattle more than 60 years ago, moved to West Seattle in 2009. It had begun plans to move to Edmonds in 2007, but never followed through due to the then-collapsing economy.

Jacobsen’s deals in high-quality marine stock, including Grady White and Parker boats – ranging from 18 to 36 feet in length – and Johnson, Evinrude and Yamaha outboard motors. The company says its new Edmonds facility plans to offer full lines of sales, service and accessories.

“Adding Jacobsen’s to the outstanding lineup of businesses on port property will enhance the Port’s brand, which emphasizes destination, quality and customer service,” port executive director Bob McChesney said in an Oct. 28 statement. “They chose us because no other spot on Puget Sound so ideally matched their needs.”

The Port of Edmonds boat marina, which was created in 1962, provides the only public boating access in the 30-mile stretch between Seattle’s Shilshole Bay and the Port of Everett.