Friday, January 26, 2018

On-Dock Rail Facility Advances at Long Beach

By Karen Robes Meeks

An on-dock rail facility project at the Port of Long Beach moved forward this week following the Harbor Commissioners’ endorsement of the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility.

“This project is vital to our ability to stay competitive and will minimize truck trips generated by anticipated cargo growth,” said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “Moving more cargo by rail to and from the Port reduces air pollution and makes operations more efficient.”

The proposed facility—to be located southwest of Anaheim Street and Interstate 710—would be operated by Pacific Harbor Line and would allow more cargo to be put directly on trains at marine terminals instead of ferrying that cargo onto trucks. This would make cargo movement cleaner. A one-mile-long train can remove as many as 750 trucks off the road, according to the port.

“The Clean Air Action Plan calls for increased use of on-dock rail, and we have a goal of raising our on-dock volumes to at least 35 percent of our shipments,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “It’s crucial that we build this facility to hit these environmental and business goals.” In the coming months, the board will consider the project’s baseline budget. Preliminary designs for the project are in the works.

New Hawaii Container Terminal

By Karen Robes Meeks

Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division on January 17 celebrated the ground-breaking of the state commercial harbor system’s biggest capital improvement project, the $448 million Kapālama Container Terminal project.

“I’m proud to say the construction of the Kapālama Container Terminal Project is underway, and in four years we’ll have a new state-of-the-art cargo facility that will allow us to consolidate cargo operations, enhance operational efficiencies and improve cargo handling capacity. This will support our local economy while ensuring the continued flow of cargo to our communities through this distribution hub,” Ige stated.

The Kapālama Container Terminal is the heart of a plan to modernize the harbor. Considering that more than 80 percent of all goods consumed on the islands are imported, and more than 98.6 percent of that number moves through the state’s commercial harbor system, it is vital to maintain the shipping logistics to sustain the state.

“The Kapālama Container Terminal project is an investment in Hawaii’s future that will pay dividends for generations to come,” said George Pasha, IV, President and CEO of The Pasha Group. “The partnership we’ve cultivated with Gov. Ige’s administration has given us the confidence to invest in the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly vessels. They will serve the Hawaii/Mainland trade lane, and construct infrastructure improvements unique to our Honolulu operation, including facilities and container gantry cranes. We look forward to the completion of this new terminal and our continued partnership and service to Hawaii’s communities,” he added.

New San Diego Commission Chair

By Karen Robes Meeks

San Diego resident Rafael Castellanos is the new chairman of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners for the year.

Castellanos, who was sworn in earlier this month, replaces Robert “Dukie” Valderrama. He said his theme for 2018 is "Ocean Optimism."

“The San Diego region is known for its innovation, but much of its success has been directed eastward, away from the ocean,” Castellanos said. “The 21st century is also about looking west, at the swelling importance of the Blue Economy. We must catch that wave, lifting up all boats on a rising tide of innovation, investment and optimism. If we’re successful, then just like the Santa Clara Valley came to be known as the Silicon Valley, perhaps one day the San Diego Bay will come to be known as the Blue Technology Bay.”

Coronado resident Garry J. Bonelli was sworn in as vice chair, while Chula Vista resident Ann Moore became board secretary.

New Olympia Citizen Advisors

By Karen Robes Meeks

Earlier this month, the Port of Olympia Commission welcomed four new members to the Port of Olympia Citizens Advisory Committee (POCAC) and voted to raise the number of members from 12 to 13. Cameron Wilson, Deborah Pattin, Juqita (Gigi) McClure and Meren Gadman join current committee members Jim Broman, Greg Bucove, Judy Hoefling, Greg Johnson, Travis Matheson, Peter Overton, Jerry Wilkins, Richard Wolf and Thom Woodruff.

“I am impressed by the number of motivated and qualified members of our community willing to step forward as we study critical issues and opportunities, and chart the future of our community port,” Port Commissioner Joe Downing said. “I expect the port to have a very successful year, given the contributions from our excellent staff, engaged POCAC volunteers and renewed alignment with shared community goals,” he added.

Formed in 1994, the committee meets monthly to discuss and act on commission assignments and may be asked to take part in port programs and projects. Previous projects included the Dock Report, Public Participation Report, Port Cargoes Report, Port Renaming, Comprehensive Plan Land Use Plan Update, NewMarket Industrial Campus Development Alternatives Study, Commission Redistricting, Marine Fuel Dock Public Participation, Small Cities Program Report, and Naming Convention and Protocols.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

California Court Advances Rail Plan

By Karen Robes Meeks

BNSF Railway and Port of Los Angeles officials said Friday they will discuss how to proceed with their $500 million railyard project following the outcome of a recent California Court of Appeal decision.

Approved by the port and city of Los Angeles in 2013, the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) near-dock intermodal rail project has been tied up in litigation. Several lawsuits filed by the city of Long Beach, environmental and neighborhood groups contend that the project’s environmental impact report (EIR) did not adequately address SCIG’s impacts to neighborhoods and the environment.

In 2016, a court sided with Long Beach and others, ruling that additional study was needed on the project’s environmental impacts and invalidated parts of the EIR.

Los Angeles and BNSF appealed the decision and on January 12 the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s 2016 ruling on all but one EIR analysis issue: ambient air concentrations.

Extract from the ruling:

“We conclude that the exhaustion requirement that generally apply to parties contesting the adequacy of an environmental impact report do not apply to the Attorney General and that the FEIR fails to adequately consider air quality impacts of the project, particularly impacts to ambient air pollutant concentrations and cumulative impacts of such pollutant concentrations. With respect to all other claimed deficiencies, we conclude that the analysis in the FEIR satisfies the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.” Port and BNSF officials praised the decision.

"We are pleased that the court has reversed the lower court ruling, correctly applied the law and maintained the existing scope of CEQA,” said Roger Nober, Executive Vice President Law and Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer. “We are currently reviewing the ruling and will coordinate with the Port of Los Angeles regarding next steps.”

If built, SCIG would allow cargo to be loaded by rail four miles away from the port, eliminating 1.3 million annual truck trips needed to deliver goods to railyards some 24 miles away.

New Seattle Commissioners

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Seattle welcomed new commissioners Peter Steinbrueck and Ryan Calkins, while Courtney Gregoire was selected as Commission President for 2018.

“I look forward to the hard work of preserving the industrial lands that support family-wage jobs throughout our region, protecting our environment, and growing our economy in ways that benefit everyone,” said Steinbrueck, a former three-term Seattle city councilman. “Our economic diversity makes King County resilient and rich in opportunities. I look forward to working with the community on growing those opportunities.”

Calkins, who works for nonprofit organization Ventures, said he was honored to join the port commission. “I look forward to bringing economic growth and expanding opportunities to our region while being environmentally sustainable in our actions,” he said.

The commission also voted Gregoire as commission president for 2018.

“The Port of Seattle will continue to lead on economic and community development for our region while leading in environmental sustainability,” she said. “We want to ensure that all of our community members benefit from the ongoing growth at our facilities throughout King County.”

San Diego Debris Removal Project

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of San Diego will soon be ground zero for a pilot program aiming to remove marine debris from San Diego Bay. The port has inked an agreement with Zephyr Debris Removal LLC for the one-year demonstration project.

Under the deal, Zephyr will use a custom-made vessel equipped with skimming technology. The port will offer $100,000 and the use of port-owned property to allow Zephyr to dock its boat and unload debris in exchange for a five percent share of the company’s revenue related to the technology, equipment and other considerations, according to the port.

“Zephyr’s project is a great way to kick off the year and fits my 2018 theme, ‘Ocean Optimism,’ which is the belief that we should be incredibly optimistic about the potential of the ocean economy, the Blue Economy, to be our greatest source of opportunity,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Board of Port Commissioners. “Through our Blue Economy Incubator, projects like this support our position as a catalyst of our water-dependent economy while also ensuring San Diego Bay remains a vibrant resource for visitors and residents for generations to come.”

New Foss CFO

By Karen Robes Meeks

Bryceon Sumner is Foss Maritime’s new chief financial officer, the company announced earlier this month. Sumner, who earned accounting degrees from the University of Georgia and the University of Texas at Austin, will manage Foss’ financial function and performance while keeping in mind the company’s long-range strategic goals.

“Bryceon is a strategic leader with a track record of successfully leading companies’ financial functions through periods of growth and change,” said John Parrott, President and CEO of Foss Maritime. “His financial leadership experience will be a key component of Foss’ success as we continue forward and grow our service lines.”

Before coming to Foss, Sumner was chief financial officer of Dallas-based educational technology provider Academic Partnerships. His career started at Ernst & Young, where he worked on several IPOs, including a banking tech IPO that was later sold for $3.9 billion.

“I’m thrilled to join Foss in this CFO role and I think my experience in a number of different industries will bring a unique perspective to Foss,” said Sumner. “The maritime industry is fascinating to me and I’m looking forward to learning and growing with the knowledgeable leaders at Foss, to help strengthen our finances and support the important work we are doing.”