Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Oakland Establishes Cargo Transition Plan

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland Commissioners have authorized spending up to $1.5 million to open night and weekend marine terminal gates. The funds are for increased access hours for harbor truck drivers at the terminals, which began Feb. 13.

The governing Board of Port Commissioners approved the spending plan, called the Transition Assistance Program, on Feb. 11.

Added hours are central to plans for redistributing cargo when one of five Oakland marine terminals closes. Outer Harbor Terminals, formerly known as Ports America Outer Harbor, has filed for bankruptcy and is leaving the Port of Oakland.

The terminal is expected to cease vessel operations March 31.

“Extending terminal gate hours is an important way to improve cargo flow through the Port,” said John Driscoll, the Port’s Maritime Director. “It’s also crucial as we make the transition from five to four active terminals.”

Port officials say the Transition Assistance Program will help smooth the process when Outer Harbor Terminals exits Oakland. The port plans to redirect ships and cargo from Outer Harbor Terminal to adjacent terminals.

Extended hours are expected to get truckers through terminal gates faster and help the terminals absorb added volume, the port said. Night and weekend gates are also expected to aid harbor truckers by allowing them to avoid peak weekday hours at terminals for certain transactions.

Thousands of drivers enter the port each week to pick up or drop off cargo containers between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Until now, weekends have usually been restricted to vessel and container yard operations.

The port said its program will provide funding to eligible terminal operators for up to 12 weeks. To be eligible, operators must meet criteria that include signing a formal agreement to extend gate hours; providing an operating plan for extended-hour gates; and getting harbor truckers in-and-out of terminals within 75 minutes to ensure smooth cargo flow.

The port said it would reimburse terminal operators up to 50 percent of the cost of operating extended-hour gates. It added that it would cap the reimbursement at $10,000 for each gate shift. The port has also said it will provide reimbursement for up to five extended-hour shifts per week during the 12-week program.

Truckers, or the cargo owners they drive for, won’t be charged for extended-hour gates, according to the port.