Californian ports plea for government help

The Port of Oakland Photo: Port of Oakland The Port of Oakland Photo: Port of Oakland

The executive directors of the US ports of Long Beach and Oakland, located in California, have called for continued government support for maritime sector clean air efforts and infrastructure development.

Speaking in the Port of Oakland in June, Mario Cordero from Long Beach and Chris Lytle from Oakland asked for policy direction and government aid, claiming that both are required in order for the maritime industry to digest world trade growth while further limiting diesel emissions from freight transport.

“In California, we have the cleanest ports in the world, but we could use help if we’re going to do more,” said Mr Lytle.

Both executive directors expressed gratitude for government grants supporting current clean air programmes, though Mr Lytle — himself the former executive director of the Port of Long Beach — said that in order to advance the clean air effort, more aid is required.

The directors said that policy guidance in Washington, D.C. would help as well, with Mr Lytle calling for US-wide clean air regulations to get ports elsewhere up to Californian standards and Mr Cordero saying that the US requires a national freight policy to make port infrastructure a government priority.

Roads, bridges and rail networks need to be upgraded in order to keep international supply chains working smoothly and efficiently, Mr Cordero noted. 

Mr Lytle agreed and used the example of 7th Street in the Port of Oakland, saying that trucks and freight rails intersect at the major port thoroughfare. 

Oakland’s Alameda County Transportation Commission is spearheading a $500m effort — which would include overpasses, new traffic-control technology and tunnels — to separate them, and Mr Lytle claimed that when the venture’s finished, a freight-transport bottleneck will be removed.

Said the Port of Oakland boss: “We can’t afford to do this ourselves. We rely on government to help, and in this case, they’ve really stepped up.”

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