Officials at the Port of Stockton planned a festive celebration last month to mark the beginning of container-on-barge service from Stockton to the Port of Oakland, inviting a trade delegation from South Korea and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
A labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and stevedore Ports America prevented the $30 million marine highway project from starting service. The Korean delegation had a tour of the port and talked with agriculture exporters in Central Valley.
An ILWU source told the Stockton Record the dispute centers around how many workers are needed for the barge operation. The port is not directly involved in the dispute.
The service is expected to eliminate thousands of truck trips between Oakland and the Central Valley.
Because of the proximity to the produce packing houses, the operation is expected to be used to take fresh fruits and vegetables to Oakland for export. Poultry and meat exporters are also likely to use the service. On-dock rail and a refrigerated warehouse on port property mean overweight containers can be placed directly from railcar to barge without any highway miles.
Port Director Rick Aschieris had no estimate for when the service would begin.