private LTE/5G network dedicated to the supply chain, the Intelligent Crossroads Network. QuayChain’s solution digitizes information and connectivity gaps in the supply chains with port and logistics centers. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES “Not since the Titanic, or maybe even before that, have ports and shipping been in the news like they are today,” Davis says. On the bright side, the challenges that ports and shippers have been confronting have also highlighted the upgrades and policy changes needed to construct a port system that works today and into the future, he adds.
Policymakers appear to be taking note. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2021, includes $5 billion specically geared to ports and another $27 billion for which ports can apply. The funding is spread over ve years. “The bill was an awesome down payment on upgrading port infrastructure and technology, which had been ignored for generations,” Davis says. Moreover, even with the obstacles of the past few years, U.S. ports are moving approximately 20% more cargo than they did pre-pandemic. “Something is going right,” Davis says. The investments and changes many ports are making will lead to even better performance. n
A project currently in the design stage is the On-Dock Rail Expansion of Berths 302 to 305, which will add 17,500 track feet to the existing on-dock rail yard at the Fenix Container Terminal. The expanded yard rail conguration will allow for rail mounted gantry crane operation. The project is expected to begin construction in July 2023, with completion by mid-2025. FLOWING THROUGH ST. LOUIS Cargo vessels don’t only travel the ocean. Roughly 60% of the grain in North America oats down the Mississippi River to New Orleans for export, says Susan Taylor, director, port authority, with the St. Louis Development Corporation. In 2022, given the expected decline of Ukrainian and Russian exports, she expects the number of agriculture barges to signicantly increase. A $7.2 million BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant received in 2021 will expand rail services at the Municipal River Terminal (MRT) and a grain conveyor plant, both on the Missouri side of the river. It also will expand rail service at two Illinois locations. BUILD Grants are a program of the Department of Transportation. INLAND PORTS STEP IT UP Although the term may seem like an oxymoron, inland ports are a growing segment of the port sector, Davis says. Moving intermodal containers from vessels to rail to inland ports, where they can be unloaded and transshipped, means more functions occur away from congested seaports. A case in point is the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA), which in 2021 inked a deal with the Port of Long Beach to use the on- and near-dock rail system at the Port of Long Beach to speed rail deliveries to and from Utah. In turn, UIPA committed to developing its transloading capacity. In August 2021, UIPA announced a partnership with QuayChain Technologies to build and operate a
While smaller than many other ports that dot the North American coastline, the Port of Valdez in Alaska has potential, and Jeremy Talbott, ports and harbor director, has ambitious plans for its growth. He notes that the state of Alaska has enough coast land to take over worldwide production of kelp, a type of seaweed. Among other uses, seaweed can be used in fertilizer and animal feed; when included within animal feed, it can cut the methane emitted by animals by about three-quarters, Talbott says. Companies from across the globe are interested in its potential. “It’s a modern-day gold rush,” he says. The Port of Valdez is home to nine grain silos that could play a role. Built in the 1980s to hold winter wheat, that market failed to materialize due to a lack of rail transport, Talbott says. Other than their use as cell towers, the silos have sat dormant. Talbott is working with several companies to obtain grants to upgrade the silos so they can be used to help develop the state’s mariculture industry. The Port of Valdez: Modern-Day Gold Rush
172 Inbound Logistics • July 2022
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