Maritime careers offer a different path. High school graduates might start at about $25 per hour, and then work up to six-gure wages, along with benets— often while in their 20s. The industry needs to let students and families know about the opportunities available, Cartagena says. ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES The challenges are real and a number of ports are tackling them. Some are changing operations to add third shifts and pre-position equipment and cargo to prepare for surges. In addition, many North American ports are undertaking ambitious capital improvement projects. “Some ports have increased automation to help with efciencies and many have completed or have infrastructure projects underway in order to handle more cargo volume,” Price says. PORT HOUSTON TAKES ACTION Port Houston owns and operates eight public wharves and terminals, including the region’s largest breakbulk terminal, says spokesperson Lisa Ashley-Daniels. Two of its container terminals, Bayport and Barbours Cut, together handle about 70% of all container cargo through the Gulf. Given the surge in volume, Port Houston’s management team is responding “with an accelerated infrastructure development program on all fronts,” says Roger Guenther, executive director. “The port is expanding the Houston Ship Channel to handle bigger ships, constructing wharves, adding container yard space, installing new equipment, and training our future workforce.” In June, Port Houston, partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, launched a $1 billion expansion of the Houston Ship Channel. Known as “Project 11” because it’s the 11th major construction project in this waterway, the initiative will, among other changes, deepen some segments by up to 46.5 feet and widen parts of the channel by 170 feet.
To manage volume surges, Port Houston is expanding its Houston Ship Channel to handle bigger ships, constructing wharves, adding container yard space, installing new equipment, and training its future workforce.
The $142 million the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated to the project is designated to complete Segment 3 of Project 11, which focuses on the Barbours Cut Container Terminal section of the Houston Ship Channel. Completing this segment will allow the terminal to handle larger container vessels. GEORGIA PORTS PREPARE As delays have dogged some West Coast ports, more shipments, including those from Asia, are traversing the Panama Canal and heading to ports on the East Coast. This, along with organic growth in trade volume, prompted the Georgia Port Authority (GPA) to expedite its infrastructure expansion plan and boost stafng, delivering new capacity ahead of schedule, says Ed McCarthy, chief operating ofcer. In November 2021, the Georgia Port Authority commissioned the nal set of working tracks at the Mason Mega Rail Terminal at the Port of Savannah, boosting rail lift capacity to one million containers per year, a jump of 30%. Spanning 85 acres and offering 18 working tracks and 10 rail-mounted gantry cranes, the rail yard is the largest of its kind for a port terminal in North America, McCarthy says. “The Port of Savannah can now build and receive six 10,000-foot-long trains simultaneously,” he says. Because dwell time for rail cargo
at the Port of Savannah is less than two days, the expanded rail infrastructure improves cargo ow, he adds. At the Garden City Terminal, also at the Port of Savannah, the Peak Capacity Project boosted the container yard’s annual capacity by 900,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEUs). Another 300,000 TEUs of capacity are expected to come online during summer 2022. “Growing our terminal capacity allows GPA to take on additional business without congestion,” McCarthy says. A project to straighten a bend in the docks at Berth 1 and install new 130-foot gauge ship-to-shore crane rails is about 40% complete. These changes will enable the Port of Savannah to simultaneously serve four 16,000-TEU vessels—the largest class of container ships serving the U.S. East Coast—and three other ships. “These enhancements to infrastructure and stafng mean Georgia is better prepared to handle the current level of cargo, future growth, and any inuxes in trade that might occur,” McCarthy says.
REHAB AT PORT OF LAKE CHARLES In Louisiana, a $30 million
rehabilitation at Berths 2 and 3 at the Port of Lake Charles is scheduled to be completed in summer 2023, says Therrance Chretien, director of cargo and trade development. The project will replace the 1920-era berth structure
168 Inbound Logistics • July 2022
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