Port of Long Beach executive director lauds investment
February 02, 2011 - LM Editorial
Many shipping analysts suggest that U.S. West Coast ports should be back on their heels when it comes to discussing the Panama Canal expansion. At least one leading port authority disagrees.
“This is going to give importers and exporters more options, as bigger ships from Asia will gain access to the East Coast ports,” said Richard D. Steinke, executive director, Port of Long Beach in his “State of the Port” speech last week. But he emphasized that the port’s continued investment in infrastructure will counter that risk.
“Fortunately, we have planned carefully and invested wisely, so in 2010 we were able keep moving ahead with these important improvements,” he said.
Steinke noted that Long Beach is planning to spend about $4 billion dollars over the next decade to continue to provide shippers with more reliable service.
“Our harbor commissioners past and present have been very prudent with port funds, focusing on development to ensure that we would continue to provide jobs for future generations,” he added.
One of our biggest projects is the replacement of the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge. According to Steinke, it is a project of “national significance” because roughly 15 percent of the inbound goods move across the decaying span “on their way to every congressional district in the nation.”
After a decade of preparation, involving myriad individuals and organizations, the approvals and the $950 million dollars in funding were put in place in 2010, giving us the green light to award contracts this year to begin construction.
Today, Steinke will make this same case before an audience convened for “Shifting International Trade Routes Seminar” in Tampa. Staged annually by the Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA), the forum will examine the impact the Canal expansion will have on all major hemispheric ocean cargo gateways.
Joining others on the panel, “Ocean Carrier, Port and Marine Terminal Perspectives,” Steinke will discuss the current challenges of handling variable import/export trade volumes and marine terminal infrastructure development.
According to Port of Long Beach spokesman, Art Wong, defending the port’s dominant position will not be hard.
“Given the fact that our volumes in both directions have been ramping up, we can safely say that there’s a reason we are still number one,” he said.
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