High-tech cranes, bigger ships, cleaner skies and more jobs ― that’s the way Al Moro, Acting Executive Director of the City of Long Beach Harbor Department, summed up the Port of Long Beach’s 2013 and the expectations for the year just started, at Thursday morning’s biggest-ever State of the Port address.
Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond introduced Moro with his own hopeful outlook for 2014 during the annual event, which this year drew an audience of more than 700 at a downtown Long Beach hotel.
The Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second-busiest seaport, is making tremendous strides in its efforts to modernize and improve its ability to compete with other seaports, by upgrading terminals, roadways, bridges and railways, all as part of its 10-year, $4 billion capital improvement program, Moro said.
As a civil engineer, Moro said he marvels at the wide array of engineering projects he is overseeing ― like the 300-acre Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment where next-generation cranes have arrived, and the massive Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement that will create a new icon in the city’s skyline.
Moro noted that while the Harbor Department’s engineers have been modernizing the facilities, the Port ushered in more than 11 percent growth in container cargo and continued to reduce air pollution from Port sources ― diesel particulates alone are down 81 percent since 2005.
Last year was the third-best in Port history for cargo containers, Moro said, and more is on the way.
“In the next two years, we expect to surpass more than 7 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), our peak before the recession,” Moro said. “Our economy is getting better and the Port of Long Beach is leading the way. Cargo gains translate into more jobs at the Port and throughout the region. Our Port supports 30,000 jobs in Long Beach, more than 300,000 jobs regionally, and 1.5 million nationally.”
Harbor Commission President Drummond said he is excited by the Port’s progress, and confident the infrastructure improvements will keep the Port competitive.
“Our No. 1 priority at the Port remains to complete our projects under construction on time and on budget so that we can all benefit from these massive improvements,” said Drummond.