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Wednesday, Jul 17, 2024
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Port Receives Federal Funds to Make it More Competitive

TRANSPORTATION: $5M Grant Will Help Make Terminal Project ‘Shovel Ready’

SAN DIEGO – The Port of San Diego is making a bid to become more competitive by improving its cargo handling capability.

A previous, $24 million project – part one of its redevelopment – has already improved business at the port’s 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in Barrio Logan. Now the agency is preparing for part two.

Ultimately, the port hopes to capture business it was not able to capture before, said Michael LaFleur, the port’s vice president of maritime.

Michael LaFleur
Vice President of Maritime
Port of San Diego

The 10th Avenue Marine Terminal handles military cargo, extra-large items such as windmill blades, unboxed material such as steel for shipbuilding, and bulk commodities including aggregate, cement, soda ash and sugar. Its only container traffic is refrigerated containers of bananas.

$5 Million Matched by $5 Million

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) announced on June 25 that the port will receive a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to get the second phase of redevelopment started. The grant will fund planning, design and environmental permitting and will be matched by $5 million from the port district, said LaFleur.

The plan is to get the project completely designed and “shovel ready,” and put the agency in a better position to go after more grant opportunities, LaFleur said. Final designs will take four or more years to produce.

Contractors who will do the studies have not yet been announced.

The upcoming project is expected to include railroad track replacement, realignment and load capacity improvements. Once work is finished, the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal will be able to accommodate bulkier loads and heavier railcars.

The port will also plan seismic upgrades, concrete resurfacing, potentially additional stormwater improvements, water and utility reconfiguration and upgrades. The utility infrastructure will need to support the use of more electric vehicles, large and small.

It makes the most sense to do the utility work while the ground is dug up, LaFleur said.

In addition, the port wants to reconfigure and upgrade its front gate, perimeter fence and operations center.

These improvements will maximize operational areas on the terminal, make cargo handling and movement more efficient, and support future charging technologies for electric vehicles and equipment.

The previous redevelopment project, completed with the help of a $10 million federal grant, removed two obsolete warehouse structures, opening up space at the terminal.

“I think phase one was a great success,” said LaFleur, saying that the Department of Defense command that handles military logistics complimented the port for its upgrades.

Good For Business and Public Health

Phase two work will also support the electrification of cargo handling equipment to reduce pollution in the neighborhood.

The $5 million federal grant was part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Chula Vista) whose congressional district includes the working waterfront, noted the project will provide jobs and help reduce air pollution at the waterfront and in surrounding communities.

“We are immensely grateful to Sen. Padilla and Rep. Vargas for their continued support and helping us deliver on our promises to support commerce, community and the environment,” said Frank Urtasun, chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners at the Port of San Diego. “Modernizing our cargo terminals creates better efficiency for our maritime tenants and cargo trade business and aligns with and bolsters our environmental and public health goals.”

Frank Urtasun
Chairman, Board of Port Commissioners
Port of San Diego

A few miles south of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, the port’s National City Marine Terminal processes 400,000 autos per year.

The Pacific Maritime Association reported that the Port of San Diego handled 4.97 million tons of cargo in 2023, a 5.4% increase from 2022. Some 19.5% of the cargo was being loaded onto ships while 80.5% was coming off ships.

The numbers are well below those generated by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which collectively handled 202.3 million tons.

LaFleur said the agency has also been studying increased barge traffic between the Port of San Diego and Bellingham, Washington.

Port of San Diego
FOUNDED: 1962
PRESIDENT & CEO: Randa Coniglio (acting)
HEADQUARTERS: Pacific Highway, San Diego
BUSINESS: Special district
WEBSITE: portofsandiego.org
CONTACT: 619-686-6200
NOTABLE: The Port of San Diego supports more than 64,000 jobs and has a $9.2 billion regional impact in San Diego County

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