Truckers, Port Authority says lines moving normally in Houston

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 4/24/2013

After more than a week of delays and backlogs, it’s back to business as usual at the Port of Houston.

The port authority issued a press release on its website at 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 24, noting that “(t)rucks are being processed at near normal speeds this morning at the Bayport Container Terminal.” 

“Our current queue is approximately four trucks deep in each lane,” the release stated. “Thank you for your patience while the Port of Houston Authority brought the new Bayport gate system online. We expect no further delays or the need for updates, but will post if necessary.”

Recognized as the nation’s largest port in terms of foreign freight tonnage, the port was attempting to upgrade a 22-year-old gate operating system to facilitate long-term growth, port authority executive director Len Waterworth told the port commission during the group’s regular meeting on April 23.

In a release on the port authority website describing the meeting, Waterworth attributed the delays to a “learning curve” with converting the old system to new technology.

The opening of the new gate on April 15 brought traffic at the port to a standstill, with one trucker who spoke to Land Line noting that some drivers waited in lines for up to eight hours.

Delays at the port for drivers mean reduced wages, as many operators are paid on a per-load basis. The long lines can also have a ripple effect on the entire supply chain.

“A lot of people worked Saturday and that’s not normal,” the driver said. “To properly qualify normal and say ‘gate-turn time is normal’ is accurate, but we have empties sitting at terminal. We have a lot of office work to catch all this stuff up. And drivers never make up that time (spent waiting). They never make up that fuel they’ve burned.”

The Port of Houston website also has a live camera feed set up to monitor traffic conditions at the gates. The camera feed can be found here.

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