High-tech cranes, bigger ships, cleaner skies and more jobs were among the key topics discussed today by Al Moro, Acting Executive Director of the City of Long Beach Harbor Department, in the Port of Long Beach’s annual executive address, delivered Thursday morning in front of a packed crowd at a downtown Long Beach hotel.
Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond introduced Moro with his own hopeful outlook for 2014 during the annual event, which this year drew a record audience of more than 700.
Moro noted that the Port of Long Beach, the second-busiest port in the United States, is making tremendous strides in its efforts to modernize and improve its ability to compete with other ports by upgrading terminals, roadways and bridges as part of a 10-year, $4 billion capital improvement program.
As a civil engineer, Moro said he marvels at the wide array of engineering projects he is overseeing, like the 300-acre Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment where next-generation cranes have arrived and the massive Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement.
Moro noted that while the Harbor Department’s engineers have been modernizing the facilities, the port ushered in more than 11 percent growth in container cargo and continued to reduce air pollution from port sources diesel particulates alone are down 81 percent since 2005.
Last year was the third-best in port history for cargo containers, Moro said, and more is on the way. Recently released data showed that cargo volumes at the port rose 11.3 percent last year to 6,730,573 units – making 2013 the port’s third-busiest year ever behind only 2006 and 2007.
“In the next two years, we expect to surpass more than 7 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), our peak before the recession,” Moro said. “Our economy is getting better and the Port of Long Beach is leading the way. Cargo gains translate into more jobs at the port and throughout the region. Our port supports 30,000 jobs in Long Beach, more than 300,000 jobs regionally, and 1.5 million nationally.”
Harbor Commission President Drummond said he is excited by the port’s progress, and confident the infrastructure improvements will keep the port competitive.
“Our No. 1 priority at the port remains to complete our projects under construction on time and on budget so that we can all benefit from these massive improvements,” said Drummond.
In 2013, imports at the port were up 12.8 percent to 3,455,323 TEUs, exports rose 10.7 percent to 1,704,932 TEUs, and empties were up 8.8 percent to 1,570,318 TEUs. With imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.
The Port Long Beach said shipping container volume rose in part because major shipping lines – CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co. – started to increase their services to Long Beach at the end of 2012.
An archived webcast of the State of the Port event is available at www.polb.com/stateoftheport.
Bonus Video: Offloading Giant Cranes