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Mexico plans an alternative to the jammed docks in L.A., Long Beach

Goods movement through California ports is being affected by proposed Mexican ports. Impacts will affect SoCal jobs, pollution, and economy.

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You'll be hearing a lot about new inland ports and West Coast ocean cargo ports in California and Mexico during 2007 - 2008.

Cargo is clogging the highways and the port facilities -- and predictions are that the cargo coming into Los Angeles and Long Beach could double by 2020.

Global shipping companies are frustrated with backlogs at West Coast ports and especially at Long Beach and Los Angeles and several have appealed to the Mexican government to spur development of a new port in Baja California.

Congestion at Long Beach and Los Angeles over the past three years has cost shipping companies as much as $300,000 a week in salaries and fuel while vessels sat offshore as long as 14 days.

The backlogs have spurred dredging and construction projects at ports from Alaska to Central America. Even Panama is building a $1 billion megaport at the Pacific Ocean entrance to the Panama Canal.

Cargo traffic from East Asia is increasing 15 percent annually, with nearly 57 percent of that volume from China alone. Elimination of global textile quotas last January is expected to boost clothing shipments even more. By 2020, according to industry estimates, cargo from Asia is expected to double.

New Port Planned for Punta Colonet, Mexico

One proposed port at Punta Colonet, would require that a harbor would have to be dredged deep enough to accommodate several megaships at once.

Within seven years, Punta Colonet could be processing the equivalent of a million 20-foot-long containers annually, 6 million by 2025. The volume predicted for Colonet is comparable to that at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are the largest on North America's West Coast. Together, they handled $200 billion worth of cargo, or 13 million TEUs, last year.

Serving Inland US With Cargo Logistics

Ensenada's cargo operations mainly serves Baja California. Any new venture by Hong Kong-based Hutchison, the world's largest terminal developer and operator, would focus on moving goods to the U.S. interior.

The containerized imports that come into ports on the U.S. West Coast, 50% to 60% go to the other side of the United States.

Southern California Shipping Impact

To prevent backlogs during peak shipping season from July 4 to just before Christmas, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have extended their hours and days of operation and hired more workers. But the ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach can absorb only a fraction of the additional shipments.

Expansion also is complicated by community opposition. The ports are the region's biggest source of air pollution.

Southern California port officials worry about losses in jobs and revenue if shipping traffic shifts to competing regions.

Growing Jumbo Cargo Megaships

A new generation of jumbo ships also will strain West Coast operations. Not so long ago, a big container ship was one capable of carrying 6,000 TEUs. Today, ships of 7,500 to 8,000 TEUs are becoming commonplace in the Pacific. Many of the world's largest shipping companies have them on order.

The new megaships stack containers 18 wide across their decks and loading and unloading one can take up to three days, even with the fastest available cranes.

They're far too big to fit through the Panama Canal, and they ride so deep in the water that they can't be handled at several West Coast ports, including the Port of San Diego, which is not deep enough to handle the full range of current cargo ships.

With a harbor that could handle megaships, it's estimated that a port at Punta Colonet would be able to handle nearly one-seventh of Los Angeles' current volume by 2012.


Edited by Carolyn Allen
| port | logistics | southern california | shipping | trucking | goods movement |


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