The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that 95 percent of overseas trade produced or consumed by the United States moves through our ports. To sustain a growing economy and to compete internationally, our nation’s port infrastructure must be regularly maintained, modernized, and expanded.
California’s seaports — including 11 large to medium-sized maritime facilities — move trade goods from ship to shore and vice versa, and provide links to the national highway system and the transcontinental railroad network.
Today, more than 40 percent of containerized cargo entering the U.S. arrives at California ports. Port activities employ 500,000 people in California, generating nearly $7 billion in state and local tax revenues annually.
To sustain the world-class status of California’s port system, large-scale infrastructure projects are needed to increase the efficiency, productivity, capacity and reliability of cargo shipments. These efforts range from upgrading or replacing port bridges, renovating port roadways, and expanding rail yards, to channel dredging projects, and wharf upgrades.
In this effort, the adjacent San Pedro Bay Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are making a major contribution to the cumulative success of the statewide port system as a whole. To maintain current levels of service, a top priority for these port operators is the ongoing maintenance, repair, rebuilding and expansion of their facilities.
Prepared every four years by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the 2013 America’s Infrastructure Report Card assigns letter grades that depict the condition of each of the nation’s major infrastructure systems, including all U.S. seaports. ASCE grades are issued as an indication of the status, performance and functionality of the infrastructure systems.
ASCE’s assessment of the Los Angeles area Harbor District called for the evaluation of eight different components of the Ports’ infrastructure. Included were wharves, railroads, roadways, utilities, channels and berths, container terminals, other marine terminals, and gantry cranes. The overall grade for the Ports, based on equal input of each of the components, was a B. The Ports are committed to making ongoing improvements, with a projected total funding requirement of $3.5 billion over the next five years.
The cumulative 2013 ASCE infrastructure grade for all California seaports was a B-. That’s a commendable achievement. But to maintain and improve on this rating, funding of about $1 billion per year will be needed over the next 10 years, for a total expenditure of $10.7 billion. Certainly this is one of the best investments port authorities and their private sector partners can make to help sustain California’s dynamic business economy and bolster construction job growth.