AJOT Insights

LA Port’s Seroka Says Proposed Container Staging Facility Will Boost Productivity

Aug 09, 2017

The Harbor Performance Enhancement Center (HPEC), a public private partnership between the Port of Los Angeles and a consortium organized by Los Angeles financier Jonathan Rosenthal, plans a container staging terminal facility. This will increase productivity at the Port by 10% or more.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told AJOT that an 80-acre site on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles “had been fallow until Rosenthal proposed its use as a staging area for 3,500 truckloads per day to be transported from nearby container terminals to the HPEC staging area.”

The effect will be to reduce waiting times and congestion by diverting trucks away from container terminals and to a staging area where pick-ups and deliveries will be much faster.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka

HPEC could increase container handling at the Port by 10% or more, Seroka said. Rosenthal is projecting the HPEC development will cost $100 million. It will also undergo an environmental impact report that could take 18-36 months, he said.

Seroka said HPEC will have a significant impact on reducing emissions at the Port of Los Angeles, because the facility will rely on solar power and battery or hydrogen trucks to transport containers:

“HPEC will use solar power at the site. HPEC will use low emission trucks to bring the containers from the terminals to the HPEC staging area. They will be looking at battery and hydrogen powered trucks as possible truck technologies. Jonathan (Rosenthal) has already done an extensive job of reaching out to neighborhood organizations, environmental organizations as well as shippers, stevedores, truckers and longshore labor.”

Ground zero

Rosenthal has a long track record of taking on challenges in the transportation sector. Back in 2003, Rosenthal was hired as part of the financial team that restructured United Airlines when it went into bankruptcy. He worked with the pilots, flight attendants and maintenance staff to restructure their contracts.

Rosenthal put his oar in the water in LA in 2015. In that year, Rosenthal, Saybrook Capital’s co-managing partner, joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Teamsters Union leaders in a press conference announcing that Saybrook Capital had started Eco Flow Transportation, a 100% employee-based company to operate as a harbor trucking company at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This was a ground-breaking move because many harbor trucking companies are owner-operator companies and the target of a Teamsters Union campaign claiming the drivers should be treated as employees and should be represented by the Teamsters Union.

At the 2015 press conference, Rosenthal said this is “ground zero for change in truck drayage…”

At that time, Rosenthal told AJOT “as congestion has gotten worse, an owner/operator driver may be averaging one and a half loads per day and that’s not enough to feed your family. So eventually the driver drops out and the company has high turnover and high costs replacing that driver with a new driver. You might be looking at delays to enter the Port of 2-3 hours. How can a driver getting paid by the load absorb that waiting time? When you’re waiting in line your truck engine is often running, generating pollution and wasting gas.”

But HPEC can be part of the solution

Rosenthal told AJOT, “HPEC will be a major driver for improved port productivity by reducing delays in waiting times for truckers.”

Seroka says HPEC will use a Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) company to operate the facility and “discussions with Rosenthal and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are ongoing.”

Seroka said: “We expect when HPEC is fully operational that it will increase throughput by 10% because we have 35,000 truck gate moves per day and we will be able to move 3,500 per day through the HPEC facility reducing wait time for truckers and shippers. If we can do three shifts per day we could increase throughput by 30%”

“In focus groups,” Seroka told AJOT, “a lot of shippers have told us that waiting times are a major problem costing them time and money. At HPEC, we hope to reduce these waiting times by providing truckers the ability to pick up containers much faster than at existing terminals. This means lower costs and less delays for shippers and more productivity for the Port.”

Six major container terminals border the HPEC facility: Yusen, APL, Evergreen and APMT while China Shipping and Yang Ming are not far away, Seroka said.

Author Photo
Stas Margaronis
American Journal of Transportation