Port of Oakland to establish $11 million rail link to new Cool Port project

Key part of plan to attract Midwest beef, pork for export to Asia

By ·

The largest ocean cargo gateway for U.S. agricultural exports on the West Coast has announced a major upgrade, as Port of Oakland Commissioners last week approved an $11 million rail spur to Cool Port Oakland.

According to port spokesmen, this represents the final piece of an ambitious plan to make this city a vital link in the food chain.

When the project is completed, an estimated 27,000 20-foot containers of meat could ship from Oakland annually.  The final destination: export markets in Asia.

The spur would connect Union Pacific Railroad tracks with Cool Port, a 280,000-square-foot distribution center now under construction on 25 acres of Port property.  Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad would also have rail access.

“The concept is to bring vast quantities of chilled or frozen beef and pork to Oakland via the rails,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.  “At Cool Port, the product would be transferred from rail cars to shipping containers, then whisked across the street to outbound vessels.”

Walter Kemmsies, managing director, economist and chief strategist for Jones Lang LaSalle, told LM in an interview last week that this kind of investment in infrastructure makes sense.

“The best approach for ports to take is one that measured and based on a clear objective,” he said.

International logistics specialists Lineage Logistics and local operator Dreisbach Enterprises are building Cool Port under a lease agreement with the port.  The port has agreed to oversee construction of the 2-mile-long rail spur.  The port will share rail costs with the developers.  A $5 million grant will offset part of the cost.  Union Pacific will construct a portion of the spur on its property.  

Oakland is already a leading U.S. gateway to Asia for agricultural products including meat.  Port officials say Cool Port could significantly increase shipments of beef and pork from the Midwest. The products would be exported overseas to satisfy growing Asian demand for U.S. premium meat.  Proximity to the docks means cargo could be quickly transferred from rail to ship with minimal cost.  

Cool Port Oakland is expected to open in the third quarter of 2018

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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