Extended gate hours to alleviate congestion, improve air quality

The Port of Oakland is initiating a trial project to extend gate hours at one of its eight international marine terminals from 6:00 pm to 2:30 am, Monday through Friday, beginning September 6. These extended hours of operation for exports only, commonly referred to as “night gates,” provide additional opportunities for shippers, trucking companies, and truckers to take advantage of reduced congestion on local highways and expedite the movement of commerce through the Port of Oakland. The extended gate hours trial project is anticipated to run for approximately 2-3 months, during the peak shipping season at the Port of Oakland, and will operate at no cost to shippers, trucking companies or truckers during the trial period.

“We’re very excited about this trial project,” stated Port of Oakland Executive Director Jerry Bridges. “Having a terminal open at night will help alleviate the negative air quality effects associated with daytime traffic congestion. We anticipate that this project will deliver important environmental benefits to our local community because it will take trucks off the road during the day relieving congestion and reducing emissions,” added Bridges.

The Port of Oakland is the premier export gateway for much of California’s agricultural commerce, including fruits, vegetables, dried nuts, and wine, among other valuable commodities. The night gates trial project has been conceived partly in response to concerns from major export agricultural shippers that daytime traffic congestion has reduced the ability of their drivers to make efficient and cost-effective “turns,” or trips to and from the Port of Oakland, during normal business hours-typically between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Port of Oakland Maritime Director Wilson Lacy sees this trial project as a win-win for Port stakeholders, “It’s not only an environmentally friendly project, but it also serves as a good business solution to keeping cargo moving in California. It will allow truckers to get to the Port of Oakland during non-peak hours creating an efficient turn-around time and it will provide an important service to our shippers and customers who depend on the Port of Oakland to be a world-class place to do business.”

A Port Access Committee was jointly formed by the Port and the Bay Area World Trade Center to address some of the agricultural shippers’ concerns. The Committee brought all key stakeholders together and its efforts resulted in the Port’s decision to implement the trial project. Maritime Director Wilson Lacy acknowledged the participation of Stevedoring Services of America’s Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) for its generous cooperation to host the project. The trial project covers exports only. The Port will monitor the program weekly to determine whether the target volume of activity is achieved.

The OICT was designated as the terminal for extended gate hours on a trial basis because of the multiple shipping lines that make regular calls at that location. The variety of shipping lines allows for the widest range of services for the greatest amount of Port of Oakland customers to be accommodated, thereby increasing the trial project’s opportunities for success. The OICT currently accommodates approximately 2,500 truck turns a day. The Port hopes that approximately 15% of these turns can be made during the extended hours of operation.

“We really want this effort to be successful because it offers so many potential benefits to our customers and the community,” commented project manager Ray King. “How well this trial project works will depend on the shippers, truckers, and export community and their level of participation in utilizing this new opportunity. If it proves to be a cost-effective way of doing business, then we would certainly consider expanding the project,” added King.