Monday, January 25, 2016

Oakland Forming Post-Terminal Closure Plan

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland will maintain cargo volumes and improve performance as one of its marine terminals closes, Executive Director Chris Lytle said during his annual State of the Port speech on Jan. 21.

Lytle’s comments were in response to Ports America, the largest stevedore and terminal operating company in the United States, revealing Jan. 19 that it is closing its Outer Harbor terminal at the Port of Oakland at the end of March.

Lytle said ships and cargo now managed at the terminal will be redirected to neighboring Oakland terminals.

“We will do all in our power to prevent disruption to the movement of cargo,” Lytle told an audience of 230 during the speech. “We’ve identified a new home for 90 percent of the cargo that must be relocated.”

Lytle’s address came before a lunchtime audience that included Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero, Oakland City Council President Lynette McElhaney, and varied maritime and supply chain representatives.

Among the steps to be implemented once the Outer Harbor terminal closes, Lytle said, are:
  • Extended terminal gate hours including Saturdays and some weeknights;
  • More labor to process cargo transactions; and
  • A Central Valley depot to help agricultural exporters pick up and drop off containers.

Lytle also said he’ll ask the port’s Board of Commissioners for approval to help finance transition costs. The funding could be used to provide performance incentives during the initial period of cargo migration.

According to Lytle, Oakland marine terminals have excess capacity, and closing a terminal and redistributing cargo would lead to more efficient use of port property.

The port will explore future uses for Outer Harbor Terminal that may not include container operations.

“There are too many acres devoted to container operations,” Lytle explained. “We now have a chance to reset.”

Also during his speech, Lytle addressed rail improvements, saying that the port is expected to complete construction of its new rail yard in the second quarter of 2016, which would add 44,000 feet of new track.

Also, he said, construction should begin mid-year on a 370,000-square-foot logistics facility.