Tuesday, February 3, 2015

POLB Projects Progressing, Chief Executive Says

By Mark Edward Nero

The two most high-profile multi-year construction projects currently ongoing at the Port of Long Beach are poised to have significant amounts of progress complete by the end of 2015, the port’s chief executive said during the annual State of the Port address on Jan. 29.

One of the projects is the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project, a ten-year redevelopment plan consisting of the combining of two aging shipping terminals, Pier E and Pier F, into one modern terminal for the purpose of improving cargo-movement efficiency and reduction of environmental hazards. Preliminary work on the project began in the spring of 2011 and in April 2012 Orient Overseas Container Line signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease with the port to operate the 300-acre terminal along with its subsidiary, Long Beach Container Terminal. LBCT has occupied Pier F since 1986.

“By summer (of 2015), we will reach a major milestone for this $1.3 billion project with completion of the first phase,” Slangerup said. “By fall, our partners OOCL and Long Beach Container Terminal can open Middle Harbor for business.”

Completion of Phase 1 is expected to increase overall container capacity at the port by 10 percent while at the same time reducing air emissions and ushering in an era of all-electric terminal operations, Slangerup said.

The project is expected to be complete by 2020. When both phases are complete, Middle Harbor will have the capacity to handle three million TEUs, which would increase the port’s overall container-moving capacity by 20 percent.

“If Middle Harbor was a standalone port, it would rank as the country’s fourth-busiest port,” Slangerup said. “It’s a massive thing.”

The other project updated was the construction of a replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge, a $1.3 billion project that intends to replace the existing 47-year-old bridge that traverses the port and Terminal Island, with a taller, wider – but still currently unnamed – bridge.

“Nearly a third of the bridge’s 351 piles have been constructed and the rest will be done this year,” he said. “The towers will rise more than 500 feet into the air, making the bridge the city’s tallest structure. And besides adding to the skyline, the new bridge will increase capacity by about one third, speeding travel for thousands of our daily commuters as well as improving conditions for trucks that today carry 15 percent of America’s imports.”

The bridge is expected to be completed between by mid-2018.