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2020 Economic Forecast & Trends: A Look to the Future with the Port of Long Beach

As the epicenter of global trade, the Port of Long Beach serves a dynamic industry subject to changes both subtle and volatile that affect commerce and international relations. The Port navigates a world of trade wars, economic fluctuations, environmental concerns, new technology, changing trade routes and other challenges of the goods movement industry.

Led by the five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners and Executive Director Mario Cordero, the Port of Long Beach is a premier gateway for U.S. trade with Asia, an economic engine that drives jobs across the country, and a recognized world leader in seaport sustainability.

As the second-busiest container seaport in the United States, the Port handles trade valued at more than $200 billion annually and is connected to 2.6 million jobs across the nation, including more than 575,000 in Southern California.

Following up on a record-breaking 2018, the Port of Long Beach handled more than 7.6 million container units in 2019. Fallout from the ongoing trade war with China will likely continue to slow cargo growth in 2020. However, Port leadership remains optimistic that the United States and China can resolve their differences and keep their respective economies growing, evidenced by the recent announcement of a phase-one trade deal. Trade with China accounts for nearly 70 percent of the imports coming into Long Beach and 40 percent of exports.

The Port has invested in capital projects to strengthen its competitiveness, including programs that have opened the port’s docks to the biggest ships, its terminals to the longest trains and cleanest fleet of drayage trucks.

Later this year, the replacement for the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge will open to traffic, providing for efficient movement of trucked cargo as well as an important route for regional commuters. Thanks to its role in providing an important gateway in the ports complex for a significant share of imported cargo traveling to all parts of North America, the new $1.47 billion cable-stayed span is already known as the “bridge to everywhere.”

Rising more than 200 feet over the Port’s Back Channel, the new bridge will be taller to allow additional clearance for some of the world’s largest and most efficient cargo ships. It will also provide improved access for Port truckers and commuters with six traffic lanes, outlook points and protected pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Nearby, the Long Beach Container Terminal is in the final phase of construction to create the greenest, most technologically advanced terminal in North America. The $1.5 billion project adds on-dock rail capacity, shore power hook-ups and a longer wharf.

At final build-out in 2021, LBCT will move twice the cargo of the two terminals it replaced, with far less air pollution and an annual capacity of more than 3 million cargo containers.

Another $2 billion in projects planned over the next decade include improvements to Port roads and channels, along with a $1 billion investment in a rail network that will vastly improve the movement of cargo throughout the harbor complex.

The centerpiece of the railway plan is the planned Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which will give the Port additional room to assemble longer trains, limit truck traffic and reduce environmental impacts. Construction is scheduled to start in 2022, with the entire $870 million project completed by 2032.

Each train eliminates the need for up to 750 truck trips, which speeds the flow of goods across the country while reducing local road traffic.

Meanwhile, for the Port headquarters, a return to the waterfront was completed last summer, when the Port moved to the new downtown Civic Center complex in Long Beach. The Port Administration Building is now adjacent to the seaport and close to the companies and other customers it serves.

In pursuit of its goal to become the world’s first zero-emissions seaport, the Port of Long Beach invests millions of dollars annually to encourage the development of clean air, soil and water technologies. The Port of Long Beach, along with the Port of Los Angeles, in 2006 first enacted the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy for reducing air pollution from every port-related source. The CAAP has succeeded. Since 2005, diesel emissions at the harbor have dropped by 87%. A recent update to the Clean Air Action Plan set a goal of shifting to zero-emissions cargo-handling equipment by 2030, and zero-emissions trucks by 2035.

Along with offering the industry’s best facilities and the most efficient link to the trans-Pacific trade corridor, the Port of Long Beach is particularly proud of its reputation for excellent customer service.

Named “The Best West Coast Seaport in North America” by industry leaders, the Port is recognized for its landmark green initiatives and the strong relationships it maintains with industry, community and partner agencies.

Information for this article was provided by the Port of Long Beach. The Port’s office is located at 415 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802-6149. For more information, contact info@polb.com, call (562) 283-7000 or visit Polb.com.

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