AJOT Insights

Port of Oakland director seeks first Pacific coast port of call

Jan 31, 2018

Chris Lytle, executive director, Port of Oakland told AJOT in an interview that “the Port has been approached by three carriers, raising the possibility of Oakland becoming the first U.S. Pacific Coast port of call. This means ships would stop in Oakland before they sail to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Currently there are 28 vessel services and all of them call at the Southern California ports before sailing to Oakland.”

Lytle noted, the growing concentration of warehouses and distribution centers plus new manufacturing “are creating an increase of in demand for just-in-time deliveries in Northern California as well as import demand from warehouses in Northern California and Nevada.”

Lytle had just completed his “State of the Port” address to an audience of 300 people, sponsored by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and Women in Logistics.

Lytle noted, the Port set a cargo volume record in 2017, handling the equivalent of 2.42 million twenty-foot containers. With new capabilities coming on line, the Port is forecasting new volume records annually through 2022.

Two new projects are Cool Port, which is expected to ship 30,000 containers a year and a new Seaport Logistics Complex, scheduled to open in 2019. This complex will further boost volume and rail shipments.

Lytle also noted that improved rail service at the Port plus better transloading of containers to rail will enhance rail service. The new $52 million Seaport Logistics Complex, a 440,000 square foot facility, has just been approved and construction is slated to begin in 2018. It is projected that import containers will be transloaded onto 53-foot trailers that then will be loaded onto rail cars. Some export cargoes may also be shipped through the complex.

The Cool Port will process 30,000 twenty-foot unit containers of refrigerated products per year. This is a 283,000 square foot facility costing $92 million. The Port projects the facility will primarily handle agricultural exports. The shipments are expected to be chilled and frozen meat products.

Lytle said, “the Port is projecting a 2.7% growth in imports and 1-2% increase in exports for 2018.”

A particular point of pride for the Port, Lytle said, is that cost cutting and “fiscal discipline” will help generate more revenue to help the Port pay its $1.1 billion debt load and $100 million in annual debt service payments.

Lytle said that “revenue is outpacing expenses and increasing net incomes which covers operations, debt service and allows the Port to invest more in capital improvements.”

On the environmental side, Lytle noted that diesel particulate emissions are down 76% since 2005 and truck diesel particulates are down 98% over the same period of time.

Author Photo
Stas Margaronis
American Journal of Transportation
WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT