Friday, June 1, 2018

Vancouver Trail Moves Forward

By Karen Robes Meeks

The construction of a connector trail that will link already existing segments along State Route 501/Northwest Lower River Road, between the Port of Vancouver USA’s administrative offices and Farwest Steel on Gateway Avenue, moved forward last week when the port commissioners awarded an $880,300 contract to Keystone Contracting Inc. of Ridgefield, Washington.

The work, which is partly funded through a $500,000 federal grant, includes “clearing, grading, paving, construction of elevated boardwalk, landscaping and irrigation.” Construction of the .33-mile portion of the trail is expected to start next month and be completed by early next year.

This new portion of the trail will be part of a countywide system that will link Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washougal to Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park in Vancouver.

New Norwegian Cruise Ship Calls at Seattle

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Seattle on Wednesday morning feted the arrival of Norwegian Bliss, the newest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.

Constructed for the Alaskan cruise market, the Bliss weighs more than 168,000 gross tons and has a capacity of 4,004 passengers in double occupancy staterooms.

“The Port of Seattle is thrilled to host the magnificent Norwegian Bliss and her passengers for many Alaska cruise seasons to come,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “Cruise ships like Norwegian Bliss meet our objectives of increasing economic opportunity in our region while constantly raising the bar on environmental sustainability. We thank Norwegian for their 18 years of partnership with the Port of Seattle and look forward to many more to come.”

Norwegian Cruise Line worked with the port on improving and expanding the Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 to accommodate the Bliss.

“We are proud of our partnership with the Port of Seattle, where we have cruised out of for nearly two decades,” said Andy Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Hueneme Grade Separation Gets a Lift

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Rice Avenue Grade Separation Overpass Project in Oxnard, California, has received a $70 million financial boost recently, thanks to Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, who secured the funding, according to the Port of Hueneme.

“Last year, during transportation funding discussions, I continued to raise how this urgent issue affects our community and secured a commitment from state leaders to fund the project,” Irwin said. “I’m very pleased that the state recognizes the compelling need to get this project done and is following through on its commitment to fund it.”

The project will help improve the state’s most unsafe street intersections by curbing potential train-vehicle accidents, ease congestion and make freight movement more efficient.

“This project will improve the safety and efficiency of the critical link for Port cargo to be dispersed throughout our region and across 13 other states and Canada,” said President of the Oxnard Harbor District Mary Anne Rooney.

Elderly Cutter Still Effective

By Karen Robes Meeks

Members of the US Coast Guard Cutter Active from Port Angeles, Washington seized more than $78 million worth of cocaine and arrested six drug smuggling suspects during a patrol in international waters near Central America.

They seized more than 5,271 pounds of cocaine and the suspects during two back-to-back interdictions on the 53-year-old Coast Guard cutter May 18 and May 19.

“The crew of Active should be proud of all they’ve accomplished to combat dangerous transnational criminal organizations that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, US Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Their ability to complete the mission on this aging platform is a testament their abilities as cuttermen and devotion to duty as Coast Guard women and men.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

San Diego Plans for Rising Seas

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of San Diego recently agreed to team up with US Navy to plan for possible sea level rise impacts when it pursued a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Commander Navy Region Southwest.

The agreement allows the port and the navy to share data, look at the latest and best scientific information and modeling for sea level rise and develop policies and measures.

"This MOA is yet another indication of the close and productive relationship between the Port of San Diego and the Navy, a relationship that benefits the entire San Diego region,” said Rear Admiral Yancy Lindsey, Commander Navy Region Southwest. “The potential impacts of sea level rise do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries and demand collaboration among all stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the port, local municipalities, and other interested parties on this challenge to ensure the resiliency and viability of our Navy installations, San Diego Bay, and its surrounding communities, now and into the future.”

Meanwhile, the port has been putting together its own study and assessment of how sea level rise could affect its facilities and infrastructure. Phase One involves an assessment in how vulnerable San Diego is to flooding as a result from sea level rise and major storms.

“The Port and the Navy are responsible for the San Diego Bay coastline – it’s vital that we work together to evaluate and plan for the potential impacts of sea level rise,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “Our partnership ensures that we will continue to be a resilient, strategic port and economic engine well into the future.”

Bellingham is Busy

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Bellingham Shipping Terminal continues to be busy, generating more activity in a week than it has in the last 20 years, according to the port.

Last week, the port loaded 5.2 million board feet of forest products heading to China unto the 590-foot M/V African Egret.

Meanwhile, organic grains that came from Turkey a few months ago via the 590-foot M/V Diana Bolten were being moved from a terminal warehouse to be shipped to local markets.

The activity is welcomed from an area that saw jobs disappear after Georgia-Pacific closed its pulp mill in 2001. Reopening the terminal has been a long road for the port, which had to clean up massive contamination in the Whatcom Waterway and create deeper navigation to accommodate newer, bigger cargo ships.

Teamwork Key to Oakland’s Success

By Karen Robes Meeks

Earlier this month, Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle opined on how teamwork among the supply chain stakeholders helped Oakland rebound from the congestion that afflicted West Coast ports four years ago to making record cargo moves today.

“All links in the supply chain came together to dig us out of the hole,” Lytle said to an audience of 300. “Labor… management… cargo owners… everyone joined in common purpose – to make Oakland better.”

To continue to thrive as a business, Oakland created an Efficiency Task Force made up of stakeholders such as labor, terminal operators, carriers, shippers and rail operators to identify weaknesses and find solutions.

The port also enacted a series of changes including night gates for truck drives, appointments for cargo pickup and “consolidated marine terminals to absorb excess capacity that depressed cargo-handling rates,” according to the port.

Today, almost $800 million are being invested in the Oakland port and the task force, now 50 members strong, meet quarterly to refine port operations.

“None of this would have happened without all parties collaborating on change,” Lytle said. No mistrust… no misunderstandings… no misalignment… everyone was at the table and the result was a roadmap to a better future.”

Long Beach Provides Scholarships

By Karen Robes Meeks

About 39 Long Beach area high school and college students wanting to work in the international trade and goods movement industry recently received $54,750 in scholarships from the Port of Long Beach. They were awarded the money earlier this month at the fifth annual “Celebrating Education” event.

The port has been handing out scholarships since 1993; within that time period $775,400 in scholarships have been awarded to 464 students.

“The smartest thing we can do is develop a highly trained workforce for the fourth Industrial Revolution: innovation and technology. We are looking to young people to energize our city’s primary economic engine, and we are proud to be part of that,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.