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Summary for July 23 - July 27, 2007:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Washington DOT warns of I-5 closures

Come Aug 10, freight haulers through Seattle will have to contend with what the Washington State Dept. of Transportation is calling its “biggest construction closure ever” when crews close down parts of Interstate 5 just south of downtown for 19 days straight.

The DOT crews will close multiple lanes and ramps on northbound Interstate 5 close by the interchange with Interstate 90.

Only two to three lanes will remain open to traffic.

Congestion is expected on routes to and from Port of Seattle docks at Harbor Island and south of downtown Seattle.

The DOT also expects backups on Interstate 405, the Interstate 90 bridge, Highway 99, and surface streets south of downtown Seattle.

The extensive rehabilitation work on the freeway will continue around the clock through Aug 28.

During the closure, crews will break apart and remove 34 failing expansion joints that link the concrete bridge slabs comprising this 40-year-old freeway section.

DOT is estimating that freeway capacity will be cut by 40% during the first half of the project and by 60% during the second half.

POLB: Chertoff reviews radiation detectors

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff Jul 20 met with Long Beach city and port officials and examined the first field tests of a new radiation-detection system.

After months of rigorous lab testing, the detection systems are now being field-tested in terminal operations, including at Long Beach Pier A.

All international cargo terminals at the port employ radiation portal monitors to scan cargo, said port officials, but the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal devices pinpoint radiation sources more precisely than the current monitors.

Port Executive Director Richard D. Steinke said the visit by Chertoff underscores the importance of the Port of Long Beach to international trade and the national economy.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster commented that the visit “gives us the chance to showcase some of the exciting new security technologies here.”

Foster also voiced “frustration at the lack of adequate security funding coming into this region from the federal government.”

By the end of 2007, nearly all containers arriving at all US seaports will be scanned for radiation and nuclear devices, according to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Oakland to test alternative to cold-ironing

The Port of Oakland Jul 20 announced that the Board of Port Commissioners has approved a $275,000 investment to test a new technology that could provide an alternative to the maritime industry’s traditional cold-ironing method.

The Port of Oakland, container transportation services provider APL, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Pacific Gas & Electric have begun the testing process on “mobile shoreside power,” said the port.

Traditional “cold ironing” is when a ship turns off its main engines and plugs into a shoreside power grid while docked. What distinguishes mobile shoreside power in this case is that it uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate electricity for the ship, said the port.

“We are pleased to invest in this promising new technology that could enhance our ongoing air quality programs,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin.

The Port of Oakland has also entered into a concession agreement with its technology partner, Wittmar Engineering and Construction Inc., whereby the port would receive 10% of gross receipts on the LNG shoreside mobile power unit being developed for the port.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Allen Group: Dallas contractors signed

The Allen Group, developer of the Dallas Logistics Hub, Jul 23 announced it has chosen two Dallas-area contractors for the construction of its first two spec warehouse/distribution buildings.

3i Construction LLC, a Dallas-based, minority-owned general contractor, has been retained for the construction of DLH Building 2, a 192,850 sq ft warehouse building, and for additional construction services for DLH Building 1.

MYCON General Contractors Inc., of McKinney, TX, has been retained for the construction of DLH Building 1, a 635,000 sq ft cross-dock distribution facility.

The Allen Group is the only commercial developer in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex with a publicly stated minimum minority participation goal of 25% on private projects and a minimum 25% on public projects, according to the group.

The Dallas Logistics Hub is the largest new logistics park under development in North America, with more than 6,000 acres master-planned for the development of 60mn sq ft of distribution, manufacturing, office, and retail uses, according to the group.

Construction of Buildings 1 and 2 will commence in late July 2007 and be completed by February 2008.

APM opens new box terminal in Tangier

APM Terminals Tangier SA and the Akwa Group, a Casablanca, Morocco-based partner, Jul 23 announced the opening of Morocco’s newest container terminal to serve the global trade in Morocco and the Western Mediterranean market.

Strategically located on one of the world’s most important shipping arteries, the terminal will offer importers and exporters a new gateway to world markets, said APM.

More than 200 vessels a day pass through the Straits of Gibraltar as they transit on north-south and east-west liner trade routes, said the company.

Shipping lines “will benefit from Tangier’s direct access to the main shipping lane, a deepwater port capable of handling the largest containerships in the world, the newest, most advanced container-handling equipment, and APM Terminals global best operational practices,” said the company.

“The new terminal expands our global terminal portfolio in one of the world’s most important shipping lanes,” commented Kim Fejfer, CEO, APM Terminals International, based in The Hague, Netherlands.

The port project is tied to the largest ever infrastructure project in Morocco, which includes new highways, railway lines, and other infrastructures, said the company.

St. Lawrence Seaway: Which direction?

Hamilton (Ontario) Port Authority VP Robert Matthews Jul 23 told attendees of the US Grains Council’s 47th Annual Board of Delegates’ Meeting in Toronto that the St. Lawrence Seaway must modernize or face obsolescence.

Matthews told the audience of US farmers, industry executives, and agribusiness leaders that the ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway need to act now — before they are in crisis — to respond to the global shipping trends.

The St. Lawrence — a system of canals allowing ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes — continues to use “antique” bulk carriers instead of containerships, Matthews said.

“Commodities formerly moved in bulk are now in containers. Container terminals are becoming long-term investment opportunities,” Matthews said.

If the system adapts — which Matthews predicted it would — US agriculture would benefit from increased competition among transportation suppliers, he said.

Matthews stated that the trade corridor has to expand to be successful and advocated opening the seaway to shipping for at least 10 months a year, according to press reports.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

POLB budgets $644mn

A new $644mn budget for the Port of Long Beach was approved Jul 23 by the Board of Harbor Commissioners.

The budget — for FY 2007-08, which begins Oct 1 — represents a 35% increase over the previous year’s budget, said the port.

Included in the new budget are major environmental and air quality projects costing $116mn, said the port, in line with its commitment to reduce air pollution from port-related sources.

Another factor in the increased spending is an initiative to reduce outstanding debt, said the port.

“This is a strong budget that reflects the port’s aggressive commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Richard D. Steinke,

the port’s executive director. “It aligns closely with our strategic plan and, through debt reduction, will further strengthen our financial outlook.”

Environmental projects in the budget include nearly $37mn to begin replacing and retrofitting the oldest, dirtiest trucks among the 16,000 big rigs that serve the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, said the port.

The budget now goes to the Long Beach City Council for approval.

Mitsubishi Motors, Port of Tacoma mark 25 years

A quarter-century of partnership between Mitsubishi Motors and the Port of Tacoma was celebrated at the Tacoma Commission’s recent public meeting.

In 1982, when Mitsubishi introduced its brand to the American market, the Port of Tacoma was among the first ports of entry for the company into the United States.

The first 1983 model Tredia sedans and Cordia and Starion coupes imported through Tacoma were initially sold through 70 dealers in 22 states, said the company.

Twenty-five years later, the Port of Tacoma and its partner, Tacoma-based Auto Warehousing Company (AWC), have processed more than 660,000 Mitsubishi vehicles. Today, the Japan-based manufacturer boasts a network of nearly 500 dealers in the United States, said the company.

Mitsubishi vehicle imports, along with four other Japanese and Korean auto makes, are processed at the port’s 146-acre Marshall Avenue Auto Facility.

Operated by AWC, the port-owned facility is designed for efficient transfer of autos from ship for processing and transfer to truck or rail for nationwide distribution.

The facility is capable of processing more than 19,000 vehicles at a time, said the port.

Borders award to USF Holland

USF Holland, an operating unit of YRC Regional Transportation, a subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc., was recently presented with the 2006 Transportation Provider of the Year Award by Borders Group Inc.

Borders Group Inc., a global retailer of books, music, and movies with more than 1,200 Borders and Waldenbooks stores worldwide, recognized USF Holland for “carrier performance and delivery of superior client service and value.”

The Borders award is based on criteria measured by Borders Group representatives and applied to all of the company’s transportation providers with the goal of continuous improvement in performance and efficiency in supply chain, said the company.

Selections for the award are made based on a quantitative scoring system that includes on-time service, claims performance, customer service, technology, economic value, and innovation, said the company.

“We are honored to be recognized by Borders Group as the Transportation Provider of the Year,” said John O’Sullivan, president of USF Holland.

YRC Regional Transportation is comprised of New Penn, USF Holland, USF Reddaway, and USF Glen Moore.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Port of Miami says “yes” to tunnel

Miami–Dade County (FL) commissioners Jul 24 voted to approve funding for the county’s share of a $1.2bn tunnel project at the Port of Miami.

The 9-3 vote ratified an agreement among the county, the city of Miami, and the Florida Dept. of Transportation to build a tunnel between Watson and Dodge islands, a one-mile stretch that would give truckers direct access to Interstate 395 from the port.

The tunnel would help divert 1.3mn port-bound trucks per year out of Overtown and off Biscayne Blvd., according to press reports.

Under the plan ratified Tuesday, the county would contribute up to $402.5mn toward the tunnel construction through a variety of transportation taxes, bonds, and fees generated at the port.

After an August recess, Miami commissioners will vote on whether to approve the city’s $50mn share of the project. The state is responsible for the rest of the costs.

If the contracts are signed by the end of the year, full-scale construction could start in September 2008, according to the state DOT, and the tunnel open for traffic in late 2012.

Matson to hike fuel surcharge again

Matson Navigation Co. Jul 20 announced that it will increase its fuel surcharge 1.5 percentage points for its shipping operations in Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Citing higher bunker fuel prices and other energy-related costs, the company said it will raise the surcharge from 22.5% to 24%, effective Aug 19.

“The cost of fuel has been on the rise again, increasing to near record-high levels,” said Dave Hoppes, Matson’s senior vice president for ocean services.

“Fuel consumption is an unavoidable and significant component of our operating costs, with every dollar increase per barrel adding over $2mn in annual expenses. We will continue to monitor fuel costs and adjust the fuel surcharge accordingly,” Hoppes added.

Matson, based in Oakland, CA, last hiked its fuel surcharge on May 27, by 1.75 percentage points. That followed a May 6 increase from 19.5% to 20.75%, according to the company.

Matson provides ocean transportation, intermodal, and logistics services. Hawaii’s largest shipper, Matson is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, based in Honolulu.

Port of Tacoma to build $300mn terminal

The Port of Tacoma’s plan to build a $300mn, 168-acre container terminal on the industrial east side of Tacoma’s Blair Waterway was approved by NYK Line at its Board of Directors meeting Jul 26 in Tokyo, announced the port.

The terminal will be leased to container terminal operator Yusen Terminal Tacoma Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of NYK Line.

The Port of Tacoma Commission will hold a special meeting in Tacoma tonight to consider and approve the final lease.

“This agreement introduces a new employer that will have significant and long-term positive economic impacts for our region,” said Port Commission President Dick Marzano.

“We have long sought to operate our own terminal in the Pacific Northwest,” said Peter Keller, president, NYK Line North America Inc.

“This facility features on-dock intermodal rail, which fits our operational preferences. Moreover, it provides NYK Line capacity for long-term success while providing Washington state with another strong export shipping option,” Keller added.

The YTTI terminal, expected to open in 2012, will be designed for an annual throughput capacity of 1.4mn to 1.8mn TEUs, said the port.


Friday, July 27, 2007

LA/LB port strike averted

Clerical workers at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports tentatively agreed to a new contract Jul 26, thus averting a threatened strike at the complex that accounts for more than 40% of all the cargo container traffic coming into the United States.

“The employers are pleased that the union recognized the substantial investment that [employers] have made and agreed to their last wage proposal,” said Steve Berry, a negotiator for the shippers.

Workers for 17 shipping companies and other cargo firms at the twin ports, represented by Local 63 Office Clerical Unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, have been working without a contract since Jul 1.

The 15,000-member ILWU had stated previously that longshoremen would honor picket lines if the clerical workers went on strike. Such an action could have resulted in a shut down of the two ports.

John Fageaux Jr., president of the union local, said he was satisfied with the tentative agreement and expects the union membership to vote on the contract some time next week.

UPS introduces Express Critical service

UPS Jul 25 announced the launch of UPS Express Critical, a service that meshes all of UPS’s same-day and urgent capabilities into a single suite, allowing customers to manage package and heavy freight shipments together, said the company.

“For the first time in the industry, customers have a single point of contact regardless of whether they’re shipping a small package or a 1,000-pound machine part — air or ground, domestic or international,” announced UPS.

“Customers now have a single call center, one bill, and one Web site to manifest and track their truly urgent shipments,” said UPS.

“This is a same-day critical service that works for any size or weight shipment while bringing tracking and billing together on a single platform,” said Dan Brutto, UPS president of global freight forwarding.

“Traditionally in our industry, you called different places to move something big versus something small. We think our approach is really going to help our customers because when every second counts, they’ll be calling the same person no matter what they’re shipping,” added Brutto.

DHL introduces ShipRush application

DHL, a leading express delivery and logistics company, Jul 26 announced it has recently introduced ShipRush for DHL.

The software tool “gives shippers an easy and efficient way to ship via DHL by seamlessly integrating with their preferred business software,” DHL said.

ShipRush for DHL eliminates the need to copy and paste addresses or to export and import customer information in order to ship, said the company.

“ShipRush for DHL was designed to integrate DHL’s shipping services with the applications customers already use,” said Keith Lovetro, executive vice president of marketing.

Shippers using the new product can “print a DHL shipping label from their own application, track and view shipments, print shipment activity reports, send automatic e-mail notifications to recipients with the tracking number, and access discounted rates with a DHL account number,” DHL said.

ShipRush for DHL also downloads addresses from QuickBooks or Microsoft Outlook and pulls PayPal confirmed addresses directly from eBay, said the company.

The software can run on any PC or over a customer’s local network so it is accessible to multiple users, said DHL.