Why We Love These 20 Ports
From deep channels to leading-edge terminals to superior inland links, there’s a whole lot to love about these 20 ports, but we’ve somehow managed to boil each nod of praise down to about 75 words.
Down the Atlantic coast, across the Gulf and up the Pacific shoreline, here’s what we find most irresistible, along with comments from port officials.
Port of New York & New Jersey
At the Port of New York & New Jersey, two $1 billion-plus projects—raising the Bayonne Bridge roadbed and deepening the channel to 50 feet—are clearing the way for further growth for the East Coast’s busiest port by improving terminal access for larger, more environmentally friendly vessels. “Preparing the port for long-term success remains a prominent mission,” says port authority spokesperson Lenis Rodriguez, who notes that container terminal activity is already at record levels.
Port of Baltimore
The Port of Baltimore handles more cars than any other U.S. port and leads in other roll-on/roll-off cargo as well.
“The Port of Baltimore’s success in autos is due in large part to our geographic advantage as the closest East Coast port to the Midwest, our four on-dock auto processors—which provide our customers different choices for their vehicles—and our industry-renowned quality program,” says James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.
Port of Virginia
The Port of Virginia’s rail access continues to expand beyond its traditional Midwest markets, giving users greater access to new markets through its rail partners, Norfolk Southern and CSX.
“A recent evaluation of our conveyance system for getting cargo to our on-dock rail yards showed we could be more efficient, so we invested in equipment, training and technology,” says John F. Reinhart, Virginia Port Authority CEO and executive director, who cites enhanced speed of service.
Port of Charleston
South Carolina has allocated the entire estimated construction cost—a bargain at $300 million—for deepening the Port of Charleston harbor to 50 feet five years ahead of initial schedule.
“Recognizing that harbor deepening is the state’s No. 1 economic priority, South Carolina’s General Assembly has been the only state to set aside the full estimated construction costs of its deepening project, including the state and federal share,” says South Carolina Ports spokeswoman Erin Dhand.
Port of Savannah
At the Port of Savannah, container vessel operations are centralized at a single dedicated facility, Garden City Terminal, the nation’s largest single-terminal operation. The annual container-port volume just topped 3 million 20-foot-equivalent units for the first time.
“With 9,700 feet of berth space, Savannah offers greater scheduling flexibility for ships, one-stop check-in for trucks, and direct-to-rail service via two on-terminal ICTFs [intermodal container transfer facilities],” says Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
A 43-acre, near-dock intermodal container transfer facility, built via public-private partnership, was opened in July at Broward County, Fla.’s Port Everglades by Florida East Coast Railway.
Steven Cernak, Port Everglades’ chief executive and port director, says the state-of-the-industry facility “gives Port Everglades a cost and time-to-market advantage over many South Atlantic gateways,” adding that, with Panama Canal expansion, “There is great expectation for additional growth in our business which will be facilitated by the ICTF.”
Miami-Dade County, Fla.’s PortMiami in August opened a tunnel seamlessly linking the island cargo and cruise port to the Interstate highway system, averting downtown traffic. The $1 billion, public-private endeavor should help PortMiami fully benefit from its 50-foot “deep dredge” channel project, targeted for completion by the end of 2015.
“It’s going to be great for the city, great for the county, and it makes our port more competitive,” says Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Port Tampa Bay
The rebranding in early 2014 of the Port of Tampa as Port Tampa Bay came with developments including ordering of two new post-Panamax gantries and completion of a dedicated truck ramp to Interstate 4, better linking Florida’s largest, busiest port to the fast-growing Central Florida region. “The density of the distribution centers along the Tampa/Orlando I-4 corridor now rivals that of Atlanta, and this is our backyard,” says Paul Anderson, the port’s president and CEO.
Port of Mobile
More than $700 million in investments have spurred diverse growth at the Port of Mobile, with more projects under way, including an intermodal container transfer facility, a steel-coil-handling facility and APM Terminals Mobile container terminal expansion.
“Investments at the Port of Mobile in recent years have led to double-digit growth in its containerized, steel and metallurgical coal markets and provided our shippers cost-competitive transportation solutions,” says James K. Lyons, the Alabama State Port Authority’s CEO.
Port of New Orleans
The Port of New Orleans, a triple-threat on inland links, scored a coup in May with the announcement that Chiquita Brands International Inc. is moving shipping operations there from Gulfport, Miss.
“The Port of New Orleans is a diverse general cargo port, named the top logistics port in the nation due to 14,500 miles of inland navigable waterway connectivity, all six Class I railroads and easy Interstate access,” says Gary LaGrange, the port’s president and CEO.
Port of South Louisiana
The Western Hemisphere’s largest tonnage port, the Port of South Louisiana handles more than 50 percent of U.S. grain exports at terminals along a 54-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, including at the 700-foot-long, 65-foot-wide finger pier at the transloading hub at the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal.
The energy sector is fueling additional growth,” says Paul Aucoin, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, “with energy companies investing some $70 billion within the port’s jurisdiction.
Port of Houston
The Port of Houston, already the No. 1 U.S. foreign tonnage port, is deepening channels to 45 feet at its Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals by mid-2015, plus updating the 1970s-era Barbours Cut terminal.
“The $700 million project to modernize Barbours Cut will include new cranes [slated for early 2015 delivery], lights and dock improvements to continue to provide customers the most efficient cargo handling possible,” says Port of Houston Authority spokesman Bill Hensel.
Port of Galveston
The Port of Galveston boasts a 45-foot-deep channel 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, uncongested terminals, efficient labor, service by both western U.S. Class I railroads and adjacency to the Interstate highway system. It has added a new mobile harbor crane and has 100 acres available for additional cargo terminal development.
“The Port of Galveston is the complete port package,” says Capt. John G. Peterlin III, the port’s senior director of marketing and administration.
Port of Corpus Christi
The Eagle Ford shale play is spurring big global investment interest, in addition to record cargo volumes, at Port of Corpus Christi.
“The world is taking notice of our region’s ability to facilitate and support the creation of new industry,” says John LaRue, Port of Corpus Christi’s executive director. “Tens of billions of dollars are currently being invested by some of the world’s top entities, and there is significant interest for development from several other major investors.”
Port of Long Beach
The second-busiest U.S. container port, the Port of Long Beach is in year three of a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease with Orient Overseas Container Line and its terminal subsidiary—the longest such agreement for any U.S. port—for the Middle Harbor terminal, now undergoing construction.
“Our Middle Harbor project will be the world’s greenest terminal and our greatest example of how innovative technology and environmental sustainability deliver overwhelming advantages,” says Jon Slangerup, the port’s chief executive.
Port of Los Angeles
No. 1 U.S. container port, the Port of Los Angeles, is completing significant rail link improvements with Berth 200 and TraPac Container Terminal projects highlighting a five-year, $1.2 billion capital program.
“Superior intermodal connectivity is a trademark of the Port of Los Angeles,” says its executive director, Gene Seroka. “We’ll continue to invest in our network well into the future to ensure our terminals, rail connections and supporting infrastructure are as efficient as possible for our customers.”
Port of Oakland
At the Port of Oakland, a multiyear, $1.2 billion project is transforming 360 acres of former U.S. Army base land into a world-class trade and logistics center, including a near-dock distribution center and terminal-adjacent intermodal rail yard.
“We’ll be able to transport more cargo efficiently to and from inland points in North America and our customers will find the services they need all in one centralized location,” says Chris Lytle, the Port of Oakland’s executive director.
Port of Stockton
California’s fourth-largest deepwater port, Port of Stockton is 75 miles inland from San Francisco, offering a 35-foot draft, secure 24/7 access and operations, 14 berths, 2,000 acres, distribution centers and true on-dock rail that handle bulk, containerized, steel, wind energy, roll-on/roll-off and project cargos.
“Our acreage-rich inland port has many advantages to make it the ideal location for a wide variety of cargos and real estate opportunities,” says Mark Tollini, Port of Stockton’s senior deputy director.
Port of Seattle
The Port of Seattle, which already has three container terminals capable of servicing mega-containerships with capacities of up to 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, is upgrading a fourth facility, Terminal 5, to such standards.
“Making Seattle’s seaport big-ship ready is critical for sustaining jobs and supporting the businesses of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest,” says Linda Styrk, the Port of Seattle Seaport managing director. “Completing the work on T-5 will make all four of our terminals big-ship ready.”
Port Metro Vancouver
Canada’s largest, busiest port, Port Metro Vancouver is advancing a program to facilitate tripling container volume by 2030. Elements include Centerm container terminal expansion, Deltaport rail and road improvements, and three more Roberts Bank container berths.
“In the next few years, Port Metro Vancouver is contributing over $700 million on infrastructure improvements to a total of $9 billion in collaboration with government and key stakeholders,” says Cliff Stewart, the port’s vice president for infrastructure delivery.
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