Short sea shipping may to come to life with federal stimulus funds
Port gets stimulus funds for new equipment
Sacramento Business JournalWednesday, February 17, 2010
The ports of West Sacramento, www.portofsacramento.com, Stockton, www.portofstockton.com, and Oakland, www.portofoakland.com, have jointly been awarded $30 million in federal stimulus funds to launch a container barge service between the three ports that will help ease congestion on highways in Northern California.
The Port of West Sacramento announced the award Wednesday.The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding the funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Acts $1.5 billion Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.
The inland marine highway service would be used to transport consumer goods and agricultural products in containers on barges.
While the deep-water channel leading to the Port of West Sacramento is too shallow to handle large container ships, much-smaller barges can enter the port. But the port does not have the necessary equipment including a massive crane to unload containers.
A portion of the $30 million will pay for a crane and other facilities needed in West Sacramento for handling container cargo.
Since the port opened in 1963, it has exported and imported bulk cargo only.
Container ships unload in Oakland. The containers are then trucked to the Central Valley, unpacked and returned empty to Oakland. Its a lot of truck trips that add to the regions air pollution as well as wear and tear on highways.
The Northern California ports last year submitted a joint grant application for $58 million in stimulus funding to help pay for a 300-ton crane and other improvements needed to remove containers from barges. It was unclear late Wednesday whether the $30 million grant would cover all the necessary improvements.
Investing in infrastructure is one of the best ways to create and sustain good paying jobs, Congressman Mike Thompson, who represents the port, said in a news release. Every dollar we invest in infrastructure gives our economy a 59 percent return.
Thompson said the project has received widespread support from the business community, local transportation and regional planning agencies, the goods movement and shipping sectors, air quality management districts, and labor, among other stakeholders vital to the projects success.
This is a great project for the port and Northern California, Mike McGowan, chairman of the Sacramento-Yolo Port District Commission, said in the release. Adding containers to the cargo we can handle will produce significant economic and environmental benefits for our region, and we look forward to implementing this exciting new service with Oakland and Stockton as soon as possible.