Ports of Oakland, Virginia set cargo handling records

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 1/16/2015

If port cargo volumes are any measure of the economy, 2015 has momentum after a robust year at several U.S. ports.

Officials at the ports of Oakland and Virginia say their facilities processed record levels of cargo in 2014.

Oakland’s port handled 2.394 million 20-foot-equivalent (TEU) freight containers in 2014 – breaking the port’s 2006 record of 2.391 million TEUs. A news release from port said the cargo numbers were boosted by stronger U.S. demand for Asian manufactured goods, port marketing efforts and diversion of freight from congested southern California ports during last year’s ongoing labor disputes.

“An unprecedented series of events has brought us to this point,” Oakland Port Maritime Director John Driscoll said, according to a Port of Oakland news release. “It’s our job now to efficiently manage the growth.”

Oakland said 10 to 15 ships remain anchored in the San Francisco Bay on a daily basis as they await berths at Oakland marine terminals. The port added additional gate times to deal with the backlog.

“Some truckers report waits of several hours to pick up cargo,” the release says. “The condition is expected to persist until labor and management agree on a new contract.”

At the Port of Virginia, container volumes surpassed 2.3 million TEUs. The increased cargo flow was 7.6 percent higher than 2013 volumes.

“The growth is significant but it has created significant challenges as well,” said John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, according to a port news release. “The focus is to continue to grow within reason and within our capabilities, strive for consistency at our gates and operations, maintain profitability and do these things with a sense of urgency and responsibility.”

Virginia’s cargo numbers were boosted in December, when 203,276 TEUs moved through the port – a jump of 12.3 percent over December 2013 figures. Truck port business increased by 9 percent over 2013 numbers, while rail was up 4 percent and barge was up 18.4 percent.

The Port of Virginia said in a press release that 63 percent of cargo is moved by truck there, while 33 percent is moved by rail and 4 percent by barge.

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