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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Port of Long Beach to receive $52.3 million in federal funding for Pier B on-dock rail facility development

A centerpiece on-dock rail facility at the Port of Long Beach will receive $52.3 million in infrastructure grants from the US Department of Transportation

The Pier B on-dock rail facility is designed to accelerate cargo movements and reduce pollution.

The announcement was made by US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday, December 23. No Port of Los Angeles projects were involved but additional rounds of funding would be announced later.

“This is great news to hear at the end of our busiest year ever,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach.

It was one of two grants designated for ports in California.

The Port of Oakland will receive $5.2 million to support a project to replace existing electrical substations and circuits located within that port facility. The project will build a new on-site fuel cell facility, a solar array with battery storage, and establish a direct connection between the port’s substation and the local electric utility’s biomass-fueled generator.

Competitive grant funding from the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration will enable Long Beach, the nation’s second largest port, to carry more cargo by train, with construction scheduled to begin in 2023. The first arrival, departure and storage track is expected to be completed in 2025 with additional tracks coming online in 2030. The project is expected to be completed in 2032.

The funding will also build a new on-site fuel cell facility, a solar array with battery storage, and establish a direct connection between the port’s substation and the local electric utility’s biomass-fuelled generator.

The Pier B on-dock rail facility is the centerpiece of the port’s nearly $1 billion rail capital improvement program. By moving containers from the marine terminals by on-dock train, truck traffic at that facility would be eliminated.

Instead, smaller train segments will be brought to the facility and joined together into a full-sized train 2 miles long.

At present, about 28% of the port’s cargo is carried out by on-dock rail, which is targeted to increase to 35%.

The Pier B project will reconfigure the Pier B rail yard to include approximately 100 acres in the northern area of ​​the port’s footprint, south of Anaheim Street and the 710 freeway.

Approved in 2018 by the port’s Board of Harbor Commissioners, it will provide a central staging area for trains, which will also aim to increase traffic flow around the area.

“California’s ports are among the busiest in the US and the gateway for the bulk of products moving in and out of the United States,” said US Sen. Alex Padilla of California. “The pandemic has underscored the importance – and urgency – of modernizing our port infrastructure.”

Padilla said the grant will help “strengthen the ports of Long Beach and Oakland for years to come.”

The leader of the Oakland port agreed.

“We have achieved an ambitious clean air target for maritime operations at the Port of Oakland,” Danny Wan, Executive Director of the Port of Oakland, said in a written statement. “We appreciate this grant from the US Department of Transportation; it is an important step toward achieving our goal of zero emissions at our port.”

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have lobbied the federal government for more funding, which they said has replaced ports in other parts of the country too frequently. Thursday’s announcement represents the first round of expanded port infrastructure grants funded through a bipartisan infrastructure law.

Going forward, the legislation will provide $450 million annually in funding for the port program for fiscal year 2026 through 2026, or a total of $2.25 billion.

With twin ports handling nearly 40% of all imported goods in the country – and a lot of ships supported during the cargo boom in light of the heavy tolls during the pandemic – port directors on the West Coast argued that additional funding was needed in LA/Long Beach. be determined for.

“US sea ports play an important role in our supply chains,” Buttigieg said. “These investments in our nation’s ports will help support American jobs, efficient and resilient operations, and the rapid delivery of goods to the American people.”

In total, $241 million of discretionary grants were announced for 25 projects across the country to improve port facilities in 19 states through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program.

The funding is designed to strengthen supply chains amid heavy demand over the past year, part of a commitment in the Biden-Harris Port Action Plan.

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