“Everybody expects 2009 to be a bleak year. Now, it looks like 2010 is going to be just as bleak.”

Idle ports signal two ‘bleak’ years ahead in world trade
 Loss of financing threatens sector that accounts for 25% of world economy
BY MICHAEL JANOFSKY AND MARK DRAJEM JANUARY 5, 2009

 Chris Lytle, chief operating officer of the port of Long Beach, Calif., took in a panorama of the slumping world economy from his rooftop observation deck one day this month.

Shipping cranes stood still, truck traffic trickled and a cargo vessel sat idle, moored to a pier.

“You never see that,” Lytle said. “It’s quiet. Too quiet.”

Port traffic is slowing around the world — everywhere from North America to Asia — as a recession erodes consumer demand and the credit crisis chokes off loans to export-dependent companies. International trade is set to fall by more than two per cent next year, the most since the World Bank began measuring it in 1971. Idle ports are showing how quickly a collapse in trade can spread, undermining growth in each country it reaches.

September and October are typically Long Beach’s busiest months as U.S. retailers take deliveries for holiday sales. This year, September imports fell 15.8 per cent from a year earlier, October’s dropped 9.5 per cent, and November’s slid 13.6 per cent.

“Everybody expects 2009 to be a bleak year,” said Jim McKenna, chief executive officer of the Pacific Maritime Association, a San Francisco-based group representing dock employers at U.S. West Coast ports. “Now, it looks like 2010 is going to be just as bleak.”

Read the rest of the article >

 

“Shipping volumes at the container port have fallen far short of initial expectations that capacity would be fully taken up this year.”

B.C. port expansion delayed
PATRICK BRETHOUR
Globe and Mail Update
December 19, 2008 at 6:24 AM EST

The port of Prince Rupert is delaying the expansion of its container terminal by at least 18 months, as the global recession and its own financing woes dash hopes of breaking ground on the $650-million project next year.

According to a confidential study commissioned by the federal government, a summary of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, the port authority has hit the debt wall, with the decline in shipping volumes meaning it will breach federal requirements on its current loans of $22-million.

The port authority’s limited cash flow, and inability to borrow against its lands, means it cannot support an increased debt burden and will not be able to borrow the $200-million needed for its portion of the Phase 2 expansion, concludes PricewaterhouseCoopers. Prince Rupert has “little or no financial flexibility to move forward with plans for Phase 2 in the short term,” says the summary, written in August, before the full force of the economic crisis swept over the global shipping industry.

The head of the Prince Rupert Port Authority confirmed in an interview with The Globe yesterday that Phase 2 has been delayed, and will likely begin in late 2010 rather than the middle of next year.

But Don Krusel, the port authority’s president and chief executive officer, attributed the delay to global economic conditions, and the resulting blow to shipping volumes, rather than to the organization’s finances.

Shipping volumes at the container port have fallen far short of initial expectations that capacity would be fully taken up this year.

Instead, only about a third had been used as of the end of November, and traffic dipped from the month before. The volume of shipping to Prince Rupert in November, if maintained over a full year, would mean the container port would be running at about 60-per-cent capacity, Mr. Krusel said.

The container port may not reach the full capacity of its first phase until 2010, a consequence of the severe slowdown in transpacific shipping volumes. “You cannot push back against a tidal wave,” Mr. Krusel said. Read the rest of this entry »

Associated Press
Ahead of the Bell: Railroad shipments slowing
Associated Press, 12.12.08, 09:22 AM EST

 A Goldman Sachs analyst on Friday predicted that North American railroad shipments will continue to slow in 2009, and said historically high shipping prices may not be enough to balance out the shortfall.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“The decline we are seeing in recent weeks is faster and deeper than what most people had expected only a few months ago.”

From The Times
December 10, 2008
Maersk Line warns shipping industry needs a lifebelt
Carl Mortished, World Business Editor

It was the one industry geared for huge volume growth. From China alone, annual double-digit percentage increases in trade had been the norm in the shipping world.

But a sudden and sharp slowdown in global trade is hurting the cashflow of container shipping companies. The situation is so critical that a senior executive of Maersk Line said that the accelerating traffic decline could push a big group over the edge next year.

Maersk, the world’s leading container shipping line, has slashed the rates it charges for transporting containers on its Asia-America routes and last week the Danish company said that it was laying up eight vessels amid worsening market conditions.

The eight ships, each with a capacity for 6,500 containers, will remain at anchor, probably in the Far East, until next summer. They are unlikely to represent the last capacity cut for the shipping giant, Michel Deleuran, head of network and product at Maersk, said: “We are certainly seeing a dramatic slowdown. The decline we are seeing in recent weeks is faster and deeper than what most people had expected only a few months ago. If we don’t see improvements, we will be laying up more.”

 

Read the rest of the story >

Updated December 9, 2008 9:54:24 AM
The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE

 

The Port of Portland has suspended its search for a private investor to lease and operate its Terminal 6 container facility. 

Port officials decided to put the terminal concession process, which began earlier this year and was spearheaded by Morgan Stanley, on ice in light of economic conditions and tight capital and credit markets.

As recently as October, officials had said that the Columbia River port was on track for a final decision by the end of the year on proposals from about 10 potential partners for the long-term concession to operate up to 215 acres of the 428-acre facility.

They said at that time that the concession project would be unaffected by current economic and financial conditions because of its long-term nature — 50 years or more.

The move by the port was intended to take it out of direct operation of the container business at T-6. The terminal has never reached its full 700,000-TEU capacity while under port management.

Portland’s T-6 is the only remaining port-operated container facility on the West Coast.

“Even if growth continues as strongly as it has in recent years, any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by,” 

Ship cargo volume slumping at West Coast ports
George Raine, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cargo volume at West Coast ports, after years of being dominant in U.S. maritime trade, is slumping, clearly the result of the worsening global economic crisis but also because Gulf Coast and East Coast ports are gaining favor, shipping industry executives say.

The first priority for the cargo container business, of course, is making good decisions in an economy in which consumers have zipped their wallets, orders are a fraction of what they were in good times, Asian factories are shuttered and unemployment rates are rising.

Long-term infrastructure improvements, including increased rail service and improved trucking conditions – as well as helping to cleanse the air at pollution-heavy, dangerous ports – will be necessary for the West Coast to hold on to market share amid ever-increasing competition from across the country, experts say.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, according to the National Retail Federation. Collectively, the decline at West Coast ports is more than 1 million containers so far this year, American Shipper magazine reported.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“This is another setback for US West Coast ports…”

Hanjin move another blow for US West Coast ports
By Martin Rushmere 
San Francisco 

Hanjin Shipping has signed a 30-year lease with the Jacksonville Port Authority for a US$300 million, 88-acre container terminal at Dames Point in northeast Florida. Expected to be up and running in 2011, it is expected to bring in $1 billion a year to local business, mostly from the 5,000 jobs that will be created, according to Jaxport officials.

This is another setback for US West Coast ports, which have been losing business as shipping lines focus on East Coast ports.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“Even if global trade returns to its formerly robust pace, Drewry said, “any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by. Volumes are unlikely to decline, but the days of strong growth on the Pacific Coast are behind us.”

Panama Canal expansion threatens some US ports
By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Published: December 07, 2008, 23:3
1

Los Angeles: The slowdown in international trade has left the docks at the United States’ biggest seaport complex quieter than they’ve been in years.

Some workers, particularly non-union “casuals”, at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports wait for shifts that never come. Automobiles and other merchandise pile up as consumers dig in for a long economic winter.

But the problems at the twin ports, along with smaller West Coast harbours, extend beyond the nation’s economic woes, maritime experts say, and changes on the horizon could leave the seaports struggling to keep customers.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“We are actually on the front end of a long-term structural change of business models where people are building their supply chains around California” for goods not destined for California,”

Is the Bloom Off California’s Rose? Some Say Yes.
US Gulf, East Coast ports vie to attract container cargo and business from the once-Golden State
The CalTrade Report

LOS ANGELES – 12/04/08 – The continuing global economic crisis, dreary retail sales, and increased efforts by US Gulf and East Coast ports to attract container cargo are severely impacting the volume of goods moving through California’s deep-water container ports, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released this week by the National Retail Federation (NRF). 
 
Overall, nationally cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline 6.5% in 2008 compared with 2007 as merchants carefully manage inventories in response to the nation’s slow economy.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, the report said. 

Import and export container volume moving through the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest box port, was off 3.9% for the 12-month period ending in October, while the Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second ranked port, was down 7.7% during the same period. 


 

Read the rest of the story >

Of cruise ships and other fishiness
November 13, 2008

The Humboldt Bay Harbor Commission is so excited about the latest Marine Terminal plan that it’s holding a meeting to hear from the public — on Friday night.

Friday night? Sounds suspicious. Maybe they hope no one will come.

 

More >

“When the Port of Humboldt Bay has only brought in one to two cruise ships per year over the past decade, it’s hard to imagine Eureka is suddenly going to become the next big thing for West Coast cruise ships.”

A real plan needs real numbers
The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 11/13/2008 01:33:12 AM PST

This Friday, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District will take up for the second time a business plan by consultant TranSystems on how to make a proposed $36 million marine terminal pay.

And again, for the second time, the consultant used numbers that seem less based on reality than on arbitrary estimates based on what ports elsewhere are able to attract.

Not for the first time, the consultant depends too heavily on a gigantic spike in cruise ship traffic to make the project profitable. In the first version of the study, TranSystems estimated that the port would draw 43 cruise ships. In this revision, the consultant says 30 to 40.

When the Port of Humboldt Bay has only brought in one to two cruise ships per year over the past decade, it’s hard to imagine Eureka is suddenly going to become the next big thing for West Coast cruise ships.

Without some solid interest from real businesses and cruise lines, it appears less than wise to pursue doing the environmental analysis needed to build the terminal.

If, however, that interest can be secured, it’s certainly an effort that should come before the public for review, to see if such a project could yield real benefits for the community and the economy.

The harbor district should proceed cautiously and methodically while using real numbers — not vague and perhaps overly optimistic assumptions.

Final marine terminal report complete
The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 11/01/2008 01:16:20 AM PDT

A final business plan for turning the Redwood Dock in Samoa into a marine terminal is now available for review.

The plan can be viewed at the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District’s Web site, http://www.humboldtbay.org, or at the district’s office at 601 Startare Dr. on Woodley Island between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The district board will hear a presentation by consultant TranSystems on Nov. 14.

Written and oral comments on the first draft business plan were taken by the board at five meetings and over a 64-day comment period ending Aug. 28. At the Nov. 14 meeting, TranSystems will present an updated report providing additional information based upon the comments received.

At the conclusion of the presentation, the board will consider receiving and filing the business plan and directing district staff to proceed with the environmental review process.

The board meeting will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka at 7 p.m.

 

Read the rest of the article >

“How much do we really want to play in this game? How much do we want to use this land for container shipping versus other uses?”

Puget Sound ports facing challenges

The U.S. economic slowdown has cut the demand for Asian imports, reducing container traffic, and competition from other West Coast ports is heating up.

By Drew DeSilver
Seattle Times business reporter

Like one grazing brontosaur after another, the giant cranes lined up at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to pluck multicolored shipping containers from massive cargo ships. The steel containers, filled with everything from electronic gadgets to running shoes, are as likely to travel to Chicago as Chehalis; once they’re gone, hundreds more sitting in nearby yards will be loaded and shipped the other way, to Asia.

By year’s end, nearly 4 million TEUs of cargo will have moved through the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. (TEU stands for 20-foot-equivalent unit, a standard measurement of containerized cargo; one TEU can hold 43,500 apples, 8,928 frozen chickens or 616 Christmas trees.)

Together — which is how people in the shipping business often think of them — the two Puget Sound ports are the third-largest container center in North America, and the second-largest on the West Coast.

But the activity is deceiving. The two ports face both immediate and longer-term threats to their plum positions in West Coast shipping — and to the thousands of well-paying jobs each port directly and indirectly supports.

 

Read the rest of the article >

Grinding Out A New Trail
Re-sizing railroad track ballast saved money and natural resources.
By Richard Parrish — Construction Bulletin, 10/6/2008

It was difficult not to notice them. Monstrous pieces of equipment grinding up granite ballast made an incredible racket this past spring and summer as they moved slowly over an obsolete railroad bed between curtains of trees, brush, homes, businesses, and other buildings in the city of Wayzata, MN, a Lake Minnetonka community 20 miles west of Minneapolis. 

Residents and passersby knew a big change was afoot, literally and figuratively. With the opening of this project, the Three Rivers Park District (TRPD) has a brand-new 13-mile, hard-surface trail that’s expected to draw upwards of 70,000 walkers, runners, bikers, and inline skaters annually.

 

Read the rest of the article >

October 6, 2008
BRUCE BARNARD / Shipping Digest

 

Orders for new container ships have dried up as vessel charter rates and ocean freight rates tumble and volume growth slows on key liner trade routes.

Enquiries to shipbuilders about new tonnage have “hit the floor,” according to London-based Clarkson, the world’s biggest ship broker “With volumes and earnings stalling, owners’ taste for newbuilds has slowed right down.”

The collapse in orders, which has affected all ship sizes, follows five straight years of historically high deliveries. Only 179 container ships were contracted in the first eight months of this year, down 49 percent year-on-year, Clarkson reports. This compares with a record 566 contracts in 2005, 479 in 2006 and 530 in 2007.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“While the present downturn and the recession that might follow will hurt everybody, the ports of the U.S. West Coast will not recover so easily because their decline is part of a deeper malaise”

West Coast port volume drop likely to worsen in next decade, study says

Cargo volumes at West Coast ports will continue to decline because of higher intermodal transportation costs. That’s the latest forecast in a study conducted by Drewry Shipping Consultants, a United Kingdom-based maritime advisory firm.

The U.S. Pacific Coast will lose its leadership position in the import cargo market because it’s cheaper to transport goods via Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, according to the study.

The “complacency of inland transport providers,” especially U.S. railroads, is driving the shift, the study claims. Although railroads continue to invest in infrastructure, the nation’s rail system is faced with a tightening market and rising demand.

“Railroads have chosen to up their prices rather than invest in significantly more capacity, in the mistaken belief that they had a captive market,” said Drewry Supply Chain Advisors’ Philip Damas in a statement.

The West Coast cargo decline likely will intensify during the next decade, with intermodal costs continuing to rise and all-water costs continuing to fall, the study predicts.

 

And: Changes threaten US intermodal route: Report

Updated October 28, 2008 3:36:28 PM
Peter T. Leach / The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE

 

After years of dominating the United States maritime trade, the intermodal route connecting the major West Coast ports with interior regions is coming under threat, according to a logistics white paper published by Drewry Supply Chain Advisors.

While the recent decline of containerized imports through West Coast ports looks like the natural result of the U.S. economic slowdown, the white paper argues that these changes are structural and long-term.

The white paper, “U.S. Intermodal Today and Tomorrow,” says that several factors have combined to undermine the position of America’s Pacific Coast ports, not least of which is the complacency of the U.S. railroads.

For many destinations in the eastern U.S., the route via the West Coast ports is now much more expensive than the route via East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

 

Read the rest of the story >

“Our primary purpose is to attract business from Prince Rupert and Savannah”

L.A. Considers $10 Incentive Plan; Long Beach Not Happy
10/26/2008

The Port of Los Angeles is contemplating a short-term incentive program to pay tenants $10 for every new TEU they bring to the port by either adding a new service or luring an existing service from another West Coast port. Needless to say, Port of Long Beach reaction to the proposal was not positive.

Port of Los Angeles staff say the program would run through Dec. 31, 2009 and could capture an estimated 350,000 more TEUs for the Port of L.A. If successful, the cost would be $3.5 million; the net gain would be about $9.5 million.

The program likely would divert discretionary cargo from West Coast competitors, including the Port of Long Beach – the neighbor with whom the L.A. port has worked so closely to advance sweeping clean air environmental measures. A cornerstone of those measures – included in their joint Clean Air Action Plan – has been for the ports to act in a manner that gives neither an economic edge.

That goodwill – at times strained due to varying approaches and key differences in the two clean truck programs – could be jeopardized by L.A.’s proposed marketing incentive program. Viewed by L.A. as a smart way to attract business during tough economic times, the proposal has been likened by others to poaching by the port that already has the nation’s highest cargo volumes.

At the very least, the proposal is a reminder that the L.A. and Long Beach ports are fierce competitors, along with every other West Coast port.

“Our primary purpose is to attract business from Prince Rupert and Savannah,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commission President S. David Freeman. “The thrust of this story is not the impact on other ports, but L.A. wants your business.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

Consultant: Rails will aid port’s success

By Alexander Rich, Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2008 | 3 comment(s)

COOS BAY — Oregon International Port of Coos Bay officials don’t think the idled Coos Bay rail line is worth much, but they know it’s valuable for their future.

At a port commission meeting Thursday, consultants from Don Breazeale and Associates suggested Coos Bay could become the most competitive port on the West Coast — as long as it has rail service.

“We have to have a railroad to make that work,” said Jack Finholm, senior associate. “Access and egress is pretty difficult without the railroad.”

At the port’s request, Finholm and company president Don Breazeale met with 14 companies who deal with transpacific trade. Of those companies — such as Cosco, Evergreen and “K” Line — Breazeale said 85 percent felt the port should take over the railroad.

The consultants said there are many advantages to Coos Bay, including low-cost land, less congestion than Los Angeles and a shorter transit from Asian markets compared to Southern Californian ports.

That said, there are no guarantees businesses would come to the area, especially considering the aggressive sales and marketing organizations in California and Washington ports, Breazeale said. He recommended the port undertake a professional sales and marketing effort of its own to attract commodity, auto and, eventually, container ships.

But first, the port needs to resolve the rail line issue.

“The rail has got to be the answer,” Breazeale said. Read the rest of this entry »

“In the past year, imports through Long Beach and Los Angeles are down nearly 10 percent as the national economy slows and consumers buy less.”

Rising global wages may cut imports, add U.S jobs
TRADE: Economist thinks trend will end double-digit growth at West Coast ports as manufacturers return.
By Kristopher Hanson, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 10/06/2008 12:00:00 AM PDT

Has Southern California experienced its last major surge in international trade?

With energy costs rising, the global economy losing steam and U.S. exports forecast to begin a long, slow decline in coming months, the days of regular double-digit growth in volume through West Coast ports may be history.

Under a scenario advanced by noted economist Paul Bingham, international trade is poised to undergo a paradigm shift in coming years, shaped by rising energy prices and growing wage rates in Asia.

According to Bingham, these factors may eventually offset much of the savings importers now enjoy by moving manufacturing and production overseas.

And if the trend holds, manufacturers could move production closer to end markets to save on higher shipping and production costs, leading to a long-term softening in the volume of imports through trade gateways like Long Beach and Los Angeles.

 

Read the rest of the story >

 
Evergreen Pulp wants reduction of workforce and wages!

Kind of shocking news for most, but not for the workforce. We have seen the company cut back on small items like linen service to the purchasing of essential materials such as wood chips. Evergreen seems to have a cash flow problem. 

Our parent company Lee & Man Paper has went from a 52 week high of $37.00 a share to as low as $3.58 a share on the Hong Kong stock exchange. They had plant closures due to theBejing Olympics, and now the pulp market has went soft as well.

Locally, our union workers have been asked to take a 15% reduction in wages and to be prepared for temporary closures with layoffs of production workers. Along with this, the company has announced a reduction in hourly staff from 165 to 145. Read the rest of this entry »

 

CN sweetens pot for rail merger
Canadian railway raises Chicago-area bid, but critics remain
By Richard Wronski | Chicago Tribune reporter
October 2, 2008

Canadian National Railway pledged at least $60 million Wednesday to make improvements in its bid to reroute freight traffic through unsympathetic suburbs, but the money won’t begin to cover the cost of 15 overpasses and underpasses that critics say might be needed.

In its bid to buy the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway, CN previously had offered $40 million to help communities along the line cope with traffic delays, noise and other problems caused by increased trains.

But even CN’s sweetened offer won’t go far when it comes to constructing overpasses and underpasses in a dozen communities that a federal report warns would face significant traffic delays if the purchase is approved. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Railroads Index Falls Most Since 1989 on Economy (Update3) 
By Angela Greiling Keane

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) — Norfolk Southern Corp. paced declines among U.S. railroads, dragging a benchmark index to the biggest intraday drop in 19 years on concern that falling factory orders and commodity prices herald a drop in freight volume.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Railroads Index, consisting of the four largest U.S. carriers, plunged 10 percent, the most ever based on Bloomberg data going back to Sept. 11, 1989. Read the rest of this entry »

“Novato argued that freight trains would bring traffic problems, safety hazards and noise in the city.”

Novato council delays decision on train noise deal
Mark Prado
Article Launched: 10/01/2008 10:55:08 PM PDT

The Novato City Council delayed a decision on a settlement with the North Coast Railroad Authority addressing “quiet zones” at railroad crossings and the need for an environmental impact report.

The City Council held a special meeting on the issue Wednesday night at the police station.

Last year Novato filed a lawsuit saying the rail authority – which wants to revive freight service – should halt work repairing and upgrading its tracks until it completes an environmental review of its 316-mile rail plan, which would bring train traffic to the city.

Novato believed that review would lead to a limit on the number of trains and hours of operation as well as requirements that so-called quiet zones be installed at crossings. Quiet zones involve extensive safety measures that permit trains to roll through crossings without sounding their horns.

Novato argued that freight trains would bring traffic problems, safety hazards and noise in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you are someone who is sitting down with a spreadsheet, and looking at how many containers will come this year, that’s going to push this back a bit,”

Transport The U.S. financial crisis could spell trouble for the Atlantic Gateway project
Ben Shingler
Telegraph-Journal

FREDERICTON – The deepening financial crisis and looming recession in the United States may hold up plans for the Maritimes to become a transatlantic shipping gateway, economists say.

Workers at Ceres watch a container being loaded aboard the Hong Kong Express in Halifax Thursday. Halifax handles about half a million containers a year, but the city’s two terminals have the potential to handle 1.4 million containers, nearly three times that amount.

Experts have long predicted an increase in global trade could lead to a doubling of shipments to North America over the next 15 years, from approximately 50 million containers annually to 100 million.

The log-jam of container traffic at popular west coast ports presented Halifax with an opportunity to grab a slice of the growing shipping market.

Many hoped the Port of Halifax, and the Maritime region as a whole, could become a premier destination for Asian goods travelling through the Suez Canal towards markets in eastern and central North America.

But David Chaundy, senior economist with the Halifax-based Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, said much of the bottlenecking at Pacific Coast ports has already been remedied by upgrading infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Cold Storage: Interest In Port Facility Rises As Temperature Drops

Published: October 1, 2008

By Scott Graves
Pilot staff writer

 

The cold storage facility at the Port of Brookings Harbor on Monday was at minus 10 degrees and filling up fast as word of its renewed operation spread up and down the West Coast.

“We’re getting a much better response than I thought we would,” said Ted Fitzgerald, interim port manager.

That’s good news for a port struggling to raise revenue to pay off its massive debt. The port commission voted in September to turn its cold storage facility back on in an effort to make money. The $1.3 million facility was closed in 2004 after drawing nary a customer.

That changed this year when the closest cold storage facility, in Eureka, Calif., was closed down. A similar facility at the Crescent City Port closed years ago. Brookings port officials saw the closing of the Eureka facility as an opportunity to reclaim business it had lost to the other ports. Read the rest of this entry »

“We just don’t believe a local jurisdiction can be given the authority to enforce such a rule.”

Ocean cargo: The Federal Maritime Commission to revisit “Clean Trucks” issue today
Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor — Logistics Management, 9/24/2008

WASHINGTON—Closed-door deliberations on the Los Angeles-Long Beach Ports Terminals Agreement will take place during a portion of a Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) meeting today. While details were not disclosed by FMC spokesmen, shippers suspect that commissioners may share their concern about escalating costs associated with the implementation of the port’s “clean trucks” program slated to being next month.

 Last week, the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) joined the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in seeking legal action to stop the October 1 implementation.

 “The FMC may also be evaluating the merits of this plan and its impact on shippers,” said NITL executive director, Peter Gatti in an interview. “We can already see a shift in shipping and sourcing strategies coming as a consequence of this action.”

 Earlier this month, the FMC voted 2-1 to order additional information from the ports on the proposed plan.

 According to Gatti, U.S. west coast shippers are already being “hit hard” by California state-mandated container fees and are resisting another layer of expense associated with this program.

 “And no one is against the idea of using cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles,” he said. “Both the NITL and the ATA support the introduction of newer trucks in the drayage operations. We just don’t believe a local jurisdiction can be given the authority to enforce such a rule. It’s a complete violation of federal law.”

 The port’s argument that its “clean trucks” program banning independent owner-operators would result in a safer and more secure waterfront is also without merit, said Gatti.

 “Shippers know that this is really about money,” he said. “And if the costs of doing business in Southern California becomes too great, they will find other ports to do business with.”

“It would seem that the district wants the public out of the loop when receiving controversial reports.”
Eureka Reporter
Published: Sep 19 2008, 11:46 PM · Updated: Sep 20 2008, 12:32 AM
Category: Opinion

Dear Editor,

The last Harbor Commission meeting was on Sept. 11. Did you know the agenda? I didn’t either, except at the last minute. I’m on their e-mail list. I usually get plenty of time to read the agenda, sometimes weeks in advance. This time, I was received the notice at 10:05 on the morning of the day of the meeting.

This last meeting was very important. Allan Hemphill, chairman of the North Coast Railroad Authority, gave a status report on the NCRA and discussed and answer questions about the railroad. We all want to know about the death/existence of the railroad. Having a working railroad is necessary for the industrialized port.

Hemphill basically said, the port has to come in first. No rail until the deep-water port is built. The problem, of course, is that no one will build a port unless the rail is there first.

Previous meetings have been packed with the majority of people commenting against the industrialized port.

Because public notice was not given according to practice, a large crowd was not expected and so the venue was Woodley Island. It seems obvious that the Harbor District did not want a large turnout.

Some clerical error in noticing the community or some dirty trick to ensure a low public turnout?

It would seem that the district wants the public out of the loop when receiving controversial reports.

What will the district pull out of its hat next? A port, a railroad or just a rabbit?

Jessica Puccinelli
Fortuna

“… we have no intention of being enslaved by railroads”

Railroad rumble
Freight traffic would soar in some places and drop in others if Canadian National deal OKd
By Richard Wronski Tribune Reporter
September 14, 2008

The Canadian National Railway Co.’s plan to reroute freight train traffic through Chicago’s outlying suburbs has generated a locomotive-size controversy.

Opponents say the plan raises concerns about safety, traffic and pollution, while CN and experts say diverting freight trains around Chicago’s congested rail corridor will benefit business and the economy.

Thousands of residents have turned out at Chicago-area hearings to voice concerns about CN’s $300 million plan to acquire the lightly used Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway and transform it into what has been described as a rail superhighway.

Freight traffic could quadruple in some communities but significantly decrease in others. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is expected to rule on the sale as early as December.

Here’s a look at some who favor the deal or oppose it—and why.

IF THE DEAL IS APPROVED, HERE’S WHO WOULD LOSE …

Frankfort

Freight trains would increase from six to 28 a day along the EJ&E tracks that cut through Frankfort. Marc Steinman, whose home is about 100 feet from the tracks, says: “Taking a transportation-related problem and moving it from one area to another doesn’t solve it. It just moves it.”

Barrington School District 220 

The district’s 9,200 students from kindergarten to 12th grade ride buses that cross the EJ&E tracks 376 times a day, said Supt. Tom Leonard. “It’s going to make traffic in town very difficult, and obviously it’s going to make traffic for kids who are on buses very problematic,” Leonard said.

Oak Terrace subdivision

The 160-home subdivision borders the EJ&E tracks and Illinois Highway 83 near Mundelein in unincorporated Lake County. Residents such as Cindy Murray complain that motorists use residential streets to avoid the crossing at Illinois 83 when freight trains block traffic. “I see more accidents, more injuries [happening],” Murray said.

West Chicago

The city, originally known as Junction, is reputed to be the first Illinois community created as the result of railroads. Under the CN plan, trains on the EJ&E line through town will increase from about 10 to more than 31 a day. “West Chicago is a railroad town, but we have no intention of being enslaved by railroads,” Mayor Mike Kwasman said.

TRAC Coalition

“All of us need to keep the pressure on the [transportation board],” said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, co-chairman of the Regional Answer to Canadian National, a coalition of suburban leaders from Lake, Cook, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will Counties, and northwest Indiana opposed to the CN deal.

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Barrington

The additional train traffic in the Barrington area will delay ambulances, hospital officials say. Medical Director Joseph Giangrasso said: “It’s very simple: If you cannot get the patient to the hospital that could conduct their treatment, the patient will suffer. In emergency medicine, that usually means they die.”

 

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“I feel like we’re up against a giant. For them it’s all about money.”

Leaders hope to derail EJ&E plan
September 14, 2008 Recommend
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY, Staff Writer

If the people don’t want more trains coming through town, it’s up to them to do something about it. At a New Lenox rally to oppose Canadian National Railroad’s plan to purchase the Elgin Joliet & Eastern tracks and run freight trains all day long, residents were told they have one last chance to write letters, make phone calls and voice their opinions. The deadline to submit comments is Sept. 30.

Residents and officials are hoping that if the local motion is powerful enough it will throw CN off the EJ&E tracks.

“We need you to speak louder and clearer than the train whistles. We need you to move faster than a freight train. And, we need you to do it now,” said Mokena Mayor Joe Werner, who joined New Lenox, Frankfort and Will County officials in firing up a packed auditorium at Lincoln-Way Central High School Wednesday night to oppose the foreign rail company.

“Is there any benefit to us at all?” one man asked about CN’s proposal to operate 28 freight trains per day through the Lincoln-Way communities.

“Absolutely not,” said New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann.

 

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“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility”

By CERENA JOHNSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Sep 12 2008, 11:35 PM · Updated: Sep 13 2008, 1:02 AM

Discussion returned to the future of the railroad at Thursday’s Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District meeting.

North Coast Railroad Authority Chairman Allan Hemphill provided the board with an update on current projects.

Currently, the NCRA is focused on reconstruction of the southern end of the line, with a $70 million reconstruction geared toward signals work, restoration of levees in Shellville and bridge reconstruction, Hemphill said.

As the harbor district has yet to reach a final decision on the Redwood Marine Terminal Project, Hemphill said there is “not much of a place to table” for the NCRA.

Once a decision is reached, Hemphill said, “we are required by staff to respond to that.”

The proposed marine terminal project includes construction of a multipurpose berth and long-term expansion dependent on operation of the railroad.

The way the process is set up, Hemphill said several issues need to be addressed.

“The first issue that needs to be addressed will be economic feasibility,” Hemphill said, along with assessing whether there is a sufficient traffic base.

Hemphill also said environmental issues need to be addressed in order to handle that traffic — in the case of the Eel River canyon, an environmental impact report — and said the question of where funds come from for restoration needs to be answered.

“We’re waiting for something to respond to,” he said.

Two years ago, the NCRA began the process of assessing the cost of fixing the canyon, starting an environmental review process and engaging an engineering company to do photo mapping to determine where problematic areas are, as well as a geo-tech study.

That is now in the final stages, Hemphill said, after which it will be delivered to the NCRA board and made available to the harbor district and public.

“I think it will finally answer some of the questions that have been hanging out there,” Hemphill said.

The harbor district board also continued discussion of the Goldman Sachs negotiations.

“We have not accepted their proposal because it does not cover items the board feel are necessary,” said Commissioner Roy Curless.

Curless said a lot of negotiating remains to be done between the board’s committee and Goldman Sachs.

“They’ve kind of come dead in the water,” Curless said.

The next step will be for Goldman Sachs to come up with a proposal that is accepted by the committee, which the committee would then bring to the board for fine-tuning, he said.

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