Long Beach’s chief engineer sees deepening the harbor to accommodate the world’s largest vessels, building large container terminals, expanding on-dock rail connectivity and establishing greater export capacity as the key features in the port’s 10-year, $4 billion capital expansion program. While East Coast ports are deepening their harbors to 50 feet to accommodate larger vessels in preparation for the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, Long Beach is deepening its main channel to 76 feet, said Doug Thiessen, managing director of engineering.
“As ships get larger, leveraging deep water will be huge for us,” Thiessen told the Propeller Club of Southern California on Wednesday.
Expanding “K” Line’s ITS terminal at Pier G is an ongoing project that includes constructing a new equipment repair facility and an environmentally friendly LEED-certified administration building and adding nine tracks to the terminal’s on-dock railyard.
The environmental clearances and funding are in place for replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, a project that will cost $950 million. The bridge carries more international container traffic than any bridge in the country.
The environmental impact report also has been approved for the $1 billion Middle Harbor project that will combine the former California United (Hyundai) terminal with Long Beach Container Terminal where Orient Overseas Container Line calls. Port executives say the terminal will be the most automated container facility on the West Coast and will cut pollution by 50 percent.
Long Beach, the nation’s second-largest container port after neighboring Los Angeles, later this year will release the EIR for development of a container terminal at Pier S, the last greenfield site in Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor. Developing the 175-acre former oil field will cost $600 million.
Long Beach is phasing shoreside electrical power into the harbor, with 50 percent of container ships expected to cold-iron at berth by 2014 and 80 percent of container ships operating from shoreside electrical power by 2020, Thiessen said.
The port also is expanding its on-dock rail capacity, including adding a rail support facility, and is talking to at least two terminals about developing agricultural facilities to transload grain products from railcars to marine containers.
“We look at agricultural exports as a strategic growth market,” Thiessen said.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.