Port of Long Beach Opens Vacant Pier to Combat Congestion

Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach
Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach is set to open a vacant pier to store empty containers amid unprecedented congestion at the nation’s second busiest container port.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved the use of 30 acres on Pier S on Terminal Island for use as a “Temporary Empty Container Depot”.

The Port of Long Beach says the temporary depot will help put back into circulation more chassis — the wheeled trailer-frames that trucks use to haul cargo containers. Because many terminals are congested due to the current peak in cargo volume and have no room to accept empty cargo containers, more space is needed to temporarily store those empties. The temporary empty container storage depot will provide a location for truckers to deliver empty containers and remove them from a chassis, and then use the chassis to pick up loaded containers and haul them to their destination.

The vacant Pier S site is currently being prepared to handle the incoming empty containers, and will be ready for use in December. Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals, a private company, will be the operator. The plan is to close the site by March 31, 2015.

“Clearing up the congestion is our top priority at the Port of Long Beach,” said Jon Slangerup, Port of Long Beach Chief Executive. “We are confident that utilizing Pier S as an empty chassis yard will expedite this process and create the opportunity to move and allocate chassis to the terminal operators and truckers.”

Ports around the U.S. have been experiencing higher cargo volumes as importers prepare for the holiday shopping season.
At the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex, a new chassis ownership system has at times left terminals and tractor-trailer truckers with a shortage of the chassis’ needed to move containerized cargo.

The congestion also comes amid labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association that have dragged on for months, causing some worker slowdowns.

In addition to the depot, the Port of Long Beach has identified a plan to operate its own chassis fleet for peak cargo shipping seasons and peak demand. Long Beach also facilitated the introduction by private chassis fleets of an additional 3,000 chassis into the local area.