Tuesday, January 28, 2014

POLB Head Predicts Future Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

Container growth at the Port of Long Beach is poised to grow back to pre-recession levels in the near future, according to the port’s interim director.

The prediction came Jan. 23, during the POLB’s annual “State of the Port” address, an event where port leadership addresses stakeholders regarding the port’s recent past, present and future.

“In the next two years, we expect to surpass more than seven million TEUs, our peak before the recession,” Acting Executive Director Al Moro said. “Our economy is getting better.”

The Port of Long Beach, is making tremendous strides in its efforts to modernize and improve its ability to compete with other seaports, Moro said, by upgrading terminals, roadways, bridges and railways, as part of a 10-year, $4 billion capital improvement program.

Moro, a civil engineer who was appointed to the interim position last June after then-Executive Director Chris Lytle left to take the top job at the Port of Oakland, said he marvels at the wide array of engineering projects he’s overseen in the past several years in his role as the port’s Chief Harbor Engineer, including the 300-acre Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment where next-generation cranes have arrived, and the massive Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement.

He said that even as the port has been modernizing its facilities, it managed to bring in more than 11 percent growth in container cargo in 2013, and also continued to reduce air pollution from port sources.

Last year was the third-best in port history for cargo containers – 6.73 million containers were moved – ranking 2013 behind only the pre-recession years of 2006 and 2007, according to data.

Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond introduced Moro at the event, which was held at a downtown Long Beach hotel. Drummond said he’s excited by the port’s progress and is confident infrastructure improvements will keep the port competitive.

“Our No. 1 priority at the port remains to complete our projects under construction on time and on budget so that we can all benefit from these massive improvements,” he said.

An archived webcast of the State of the Port event is available at www.polb.com/stateoftheport.