AJOT Insights

San Francisco Port Director Elaine Forbes promotes $425 million seawall to combat higher sea level

Sep 24, 2018

Port of San Francisco Director Elaine Forbes urged November passage of a $425 million bond issue by San Francisco voters to rebuild San Francisco’s outdated seawall and combat higher sea levels caused by global warming.

Speaking to maritime and port executives at the Propeller Club of Northern California, on September 20th, Forbes said that passage of the seawall bond is essential to safeguard 500 acres of downtown San Francisco including Port property, utilities and the San Francisco transit system.

Forbes said the current seawall is likely to fail in an earthquake causing liquefaction where land turns into mud and downtown high-rise buildings sink or collapse.

She said the sea level rise is happening much faster than anticipated and that coastal areas around the United States including port properties and urban areas are under serious risk of erosion from the ocean.

Forbes said San Francisco was adopting “clean green technologies” as imperatives to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and combat the threat of higher sea levels.

Move more commuters by water

“It is essential that we get people out of their cars and away from freeway congestion and move them by water when we can” she argued noting that the Bay Area needs to invest more in ferries. She urged more funding for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) that operates a ferry fleet linking San Francisco with several Bay Area cities.

She warned: “In an earthquake with bridges down and freeways shut we will need to get people from San Francisco back to their homes and bring supplies into San Francisco for emergency services…this is going to require a robust ferry system.” At the same time “the Port of San Francisco has the terminal space to accommodate the movement of commuters and supplies.”

Forbes urged WETA to invest in zero emission ferry engines and follow the example of Port tenant, Red and White fleet that has just introduced a hybrid-battery powered tour boat and in 2019 will follow up with the deployment of a zero-emission fuel cell passenger vessel.

The Port will benefit from the opening of two new ferry terminals and new ferry services linking San Francisco to the cities of Berkeley, Richmond and Treasure Island.

Cruise ship business Is booming

Forbes said that San Francisco will see an increase in its cruise ship business in 2019 from 2018. There will be 90 vessel arrivals in 2019 up from 80 in 2018 and an increase to 300,000 passengers in 2019 up from 275,000 in 2018.

Pasha Auto Terminal continues to grow

The Pasha automotive terminal at the Port of San Francisco continues to grow and will attract new business from Tesla and Ford, she said.

Author Photo
Stas Margaronis
American Journal of Transportation
WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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