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Photo: Port of Long Beach

Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Expand Gate Hours to Alleviate Congestion

Mike Schuler
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September 17, 2021

With unprecedented congestion at Southern California ports, the ports of Los Angeles and Long beach are taking unprecedented steps to ease the logjam.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are neighbors at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex and rank as the top one and two container ports in the United States, respectively. Combined, the ports move approximately 40% of all containerized cargo entering the U.S. each year and about 30% of all containerized exports. In recent weeks, the number of ships both in port, at anchor, and even drifting off the coast have reached all-time highs, with new daily records being set daily.

After consultation with multiple supply chain stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles today are announced bold new measures to improve freight movement and reduce delays through the ports as they continue to experience record volumes. Specifically, both ports will expand the hours during which trucks can pick up and return containers, measures meant to enhance the ports’ landside operations to help meet the unprecedented growth in cargo volume and increase throughput.

Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, announced that Long Beach will take the first step towards a 24/7 supply chain by maximizing nighttime operations. Meanwhile, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka announced that the Port of Los Angeles will expand weekend operating gate hours. Dubbed “Accelerate Cargo LA,” the Port of Los Angeles’ program will operate on a pilot basis to ensure that gate availability meets cargo demands and provides greater transparency to improve efficiency.

Both ports are also calling on marine terminal operators to incentivize the use of all available gate hours, especially night gates, to reduce congestion and maximize cargo throughput capacity.

“We appreciate the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration in marshalling a response to the unprecedented global supply chain disruption so acutely felt here at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex,” said Port of Los Angeles Director Seroka. “These steps, in addition to what has previously been recommended, demonstrate that the Port of Los Angeles will continue to innovate in order to manage this historic cargo surge.”

“The Port of Long Beach is prepared to take bold and immediate action to help the supply chain move the record cargo volumes that keep our economy moving, and we appreciate the support and leadership shown by the Biden-Harris Administration,” added Port of Long Beach Director Cordero.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles say they will work closely with the trucking community to ensure that all truck operators understand how to take advantage of incentivized gate hours as well as the expanded opportunities that will be created to move cargo during non-peak times. In addition to expanded hours and incentivized reservation priority, the ports urge terminals and the trucking community to consider additional corrective measures.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Coast Committeeman Frank Ponce De Leo welcomed the initiative and said dockworkers were ready to meet the challenge.

ILWU dockworkers have continued to work every day during the pandemic, and we welcome t­he opportunity to work extended gate and weekend hours. In fact, our contracts allow our employers to hire us for the third shift, thus providing the movement of cargo around the clock,” De Leo said. “Dockworkers have been breaking records moving more cargo than ever at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and this move by the port directors will work only if others in the supply chain step up to the challenges.”

“I thank Directors Cordero and Seroka for their leadership and all of the men and women who have helped meet the challenge of moving extraordinary cargo volumes during a global pandemic,” said John Porcari, the Ports Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. “I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to strengthen the resiliency of our transportation supply chain.”

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