Business, Feature, Freight News, Sea

Port of Long Beach Declares ‘Year of Rail’ in 2024

[ January 24, 2024   //   ]

The Port of Long Beach expect to ride the steel wheels towards becoming a zero-emission seaport, CEO Mario Cordero said Jan. 17 during his seventh state-of-the-port address.

Construction is expected to start this year on the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which aims to move cargo more quickly, make the port more competitive and improve the environment for nearby communities, Cordero said.

“Today, I can represent to you that the state of our Green Port is strong,” he told 800 industry and community representatives and leaders at the Long Beach Convention Center Grand Ballroom (Video available here

Cordero anticipates that, “at the end of this decade, the Port of Long Beach will be on the cusp of not only operational transformation given our rail investment, but also environmental transformation – to a zero-emission port.”

Bier B Project

The Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility will double the size of the existing Pier B rail yard to 171 acres and more than triple the annual volume of on-dock rail capacity to 4.7 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

The US$1.57 billion project will be built in phases and is scheduled for completion in 2032. The port has secured US$643 million in federal, state and local grant funding to cover the cost, with more than US$500 million awarded in 2023.

“Pier B will enhance the port’s competitiveness, maintain its role as an economic force for the region and serve as a sustainability model for ports in the U.S. and abroad,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera Jr. “We’re rebuilding, electrifying equipment and decarbonizing operations while developing the skilled human talent that will make the port thrive for decades to come.”

Double-digit Downturn

The Port of Long Beach closed 2023 with nearly 82 million TEUs moved, down 12.2 percent from 2022 and slightly ahead of pre-pandemic levels reported in 2019. Imports declined 12.7 percent to 3.8 million TEUs and exports decreased 9.4 percent to nearly 1.3 million TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port declined 12.7% to 2.9 million TEUs. (Complete cargo numbers are available here).

2023 marked a record year for public investments for infrastructure, security and clear air initiatives, topping US$792 million. The Port of Long Beach’s goal to transition to zero-emission cargo handling by 2030 and zero-emissions trucking by 2035.

Cordero said he anticipates additional funding over the coming year for several projects, including the port’s effort to develop a “hydrogen hub” that would fuel cargo-handling equipment with zero-emissions technology.

Additionally, progress will continue through the next year to develop Pier Wind, a proposed 400-acre terminal designed for the assembly of offshore wind turbines, which would be towed to wind farms in the ocean off Central and Northern California. If approved, the proposed Pier Wind project would be the largest facility of its kind in the nation and would help California meet its goals for renewable energy sources.

CEO Mario Cordero speaks at the Long Beach Convention Center Grand Ballroom. (Source: Port of Long Beach)