The nation’s busiest shipping gateway hailed a windfall of nearly $600 million in state infrastructure grants for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on Thursday, July 6.
The Port of Long Beach hosted California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin on Thursday, who during a press conference called the occasion a “historic and momentous” day for the ports and people throughout the state.
The total statewide funding announced on Thursday, Omishakin said, amounts to more than $1.5 billion in port and freight infrastructure. That money will pay for long-term upgrades for goods movement capacity and efforts to lessen environmental impacts on neighboring communities.
The ports of LA and Long Beach combined received more than one-third of that funding.
The Port of Long Beach will get $350 million total, which will go toward completing a series of construction and clean-air technology projects designed to speed up the transformation to zero-emissions operations. That money will be split into two major efforts:
- $225 million will fund a variety of zero-emissions cargo-moving equipment and supportive infrastructure projects across the port, including top handlers, along with tugboats and locomotives. It’s the single largest grant the port has received to support zero-emissions goals as part of the 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update.
- $158.4 million will go toward the planned Pier B On-Dock Rail Support facility, which will shift more cargo from trucks to on-dock rail. The $1.57 billion facility will be built in phases, with construction set to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2032.
At the Port of Los Angeles, $233 million in state grants will support three critical supply chain and safety projects:
- The Maritime Support Facility and Expansion Projects, which will provide chassis and empty container storage for all 12 container terminals at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, with the additional funding providing for an improved expanded area from 30 to 71 acres.
- The Rail Mainline/Wilmington Community and Waterfront Pedestrian Grade Separation Bridge project, which involves demolition work, soil remediation and construction of a 400-foot dedicated pedestrian bridge over freight tracks. The goal is to create safer connections among the Wilmington community, several local schools and the Port of Los Angeles’s Wilmington Waterfront area. The project will also include building retaining walls, storm drainage, electrical and utilities, sidewalks and landscaping.
- The State Route 47/Seaside Avenue and Navy Way Interchange Improvements project, which will modify the intersection of Navy Way and Seaside Avenue on Terminal Island to improve traffic operations, reduce collisions and improve safety. A new westbound auxiliary lane, eastbound two-lane road and new off-ramp will be among the upgrades.
The Port of Los Angeles last week also received a $15 million grant from the California Transportation Commission for a four-lane grade separation on Terminal Island to reduce truck delays and improve safety.
“Roughly 20 months ago,” Omishakin said at Thursday’s news conference, “Gov. (Gavin) Newsom stood right here at the Port of Long Beach as dozens and dozens of vessels were backed up in the water in the harbor behind you. The governor made a promise that we were going to come up with solutions both short-term and long-term.”
The ports of Hueneme and San Diego also received funding from the package.
“You asked for our reaction,” said Kristin Decas, CEO and port director of Hueneme. “Wow.”
The milestone funding will help that port, in Ventura County, make progress toward possibly becoming “the first zero-emissions port,” Decas said.
At the Port of San Diego, part of the funding will be used to improve and modernize industrial activities, including an auto processing terminal, as well as to provide more park space and other recreational areas within the port’s footprint.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of investing in our infrastructure,” said Rafael Castellanos, chair of the Port of San Diego commissioners. “The Romans knew it, building roads (and other infrastructure) throughout the ancient world.”
The Port of San Diego, he added, helps build and repair ships for the U.S. Navy, providing more than 64,000 port-connected jobs.
For the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — which move 35% of the nation’s imports and exports, Omishakin said — the funding is also a boon at a time when deadlines to meet environmental mandates are fast approaching.
The twin ports must convert all of their cargo handling equipment to zero emissions by 2030, and have a 2035 deadline for implementing an entirely zero-emissions truck fleet.
“This funding not only helps us to be competitive and grow cargo,” said Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero, “but to do it in a way that keeps in mind our environmental principles” to reduce impacts on surrounding communities.
“It’s not just about moving cargo,” Cordero said. “It’s about how we do it.”
David Libatique, POLA’s deputy executive director, called the funding “phenomenal in its scope and scale.”
“The ports on the West Coast have been chronically under-funded” when compared to the East Coast, Libatique said.
The state funding, said former Long Beach Mayor and current U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, “is a huge injection of money and support for our ports.”
Source: Orange County Register