West Coast Ports

West Coast Ports

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

To prevent an erosion of their market share to East Coast ports, L.A.-Long Beach, along with the ports of Seattle-Tacoma and Oakland, are striving to improve their efficiency at unloading vessels, moving containers through their yards, and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

Recording a rate of about 25 container moves per crane per hour, West Coast port operations are under pressure to increase those numbers to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes.

At the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, billions of dollars in new investments will make it possible to deal with the surges that have frustrated shippers and truckers. The biggest infrastructure impact in the immediate future will come from completion this year of the $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project in Long Beach. Meanwhile, Oakland Portal, launched in 2018, is a digital collaboration platform that provides information on vessel schedules, cargo status, and live camera views of local roadways in the Oakland, California area. The newest feature provides average turn times for the most recent 30-minute period.

Special Coverage

Growth in containerized port volumes in Mexico outpaced those of US Ports in 2018
Thanks to the country’s strong manufacturing sector and reasonable economic growth, the increase in cargo handled by Mexico’s ports outpaced that of both the US and Canada in 2018.

News & Analysis

27 Nov 2019
The extent to which US retailers rebuild their inventories post-Christmas will provide a hint as to how consumers will respond to mixed economic signals and higher prices on some Chinese goods.
26 Nov 2019
Barring a major turnaround in December, BNSF Railway and CSX Transportation will record their lowest annual intermodal volumes this year since 2016, and two other Class I railroads could possibly join that list.
18 Nov 2019
Using technology to correct documentation errors before trucker appointments are made and the terminals’ use of appointment systems to meter gate traffic reduced turn times in in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to a six-year low in October.
12 Nov 2019
The Port of Los Angeles anticipates a very soft fourth quarter due to US tariffs on Chinese imports, which a new report said threatens 1.5 million US jobs and more than $186 billion in economic activity.
04 Nov 2019
A group of agricultural exports blames ocean carriers and terminal operators for creating crippling terminal congestion and then profiting off the problem.
31 Oct 2019
Stakeholders in the container shipping industry are debating how demurrage clocks should begin, when they should be suspended, and when it’s fair and unfair to assess penalties to beneficial cargo owners (BCOs).

Commentary

Oakland effectively crossed the chasm between the old and new industries, putting it at the vanguard of a transition on the West Coast that will likely see terminal consolidation at Los Angeles-Long Beach, which has 13 terminals across the two ports, and perhaps further consolidation in the Pacific Northwest.