Maritime Director addresses trade group on Port initiatives

Strategic initiatives and investment in operational improvements are the Port of Oakland’s solutions to post-pandemic business recovery and future growth. That is the message the Port’s Maritime Director delivered to the Pacific Trade Association at its Zoom meeting this month.

“We are determining our strategic initiatives right now,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “We’re continuing to spend and invest a fair amount into Port facilities to ensure that we’re set up for the future.”

The Port of Oakland is considering an ‘only-port-of-call’ express service. It is also looking into focusing on rail within the western states, both short-haul, and into the US interior as an opportunity for moving more cargo through the Port.

According to Mr. Brandes, the Port of Oakland is expecting a slight decrease in Oakland’s overall cargo volume in 2020 due to the pandemic but expects that to pick up in future years. Mr. Brandes is optimistic about Oakland’s maritime business and welcomed input from attendees as the Port continues to shape its strategy.

Fifteen transportation related infrastructure and software projects are being built in Oakland. Together they make up the Freight Intelligence Transportation System (FITS). “It’s a combined effort with the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Port and the City,” said Mr. Brandes. “The new system will improve security, safety and the customer experience for those who are involved with the Port.”

A long-term project at the Port of Oakland is the redevelopment of the former Oakland Army Base. The Seaport Logistics Complex (SLC) encompasses the Port’s part of the former base. CenterPoint Landing is the first construction project at the SLC. The 466,000 square foot warehouse is on 27 acres and will soon be completed.

Three, new, huge container cranes are coming into Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) later this fall. These will be the tallest cranes Oakland has ever had at 442 feet as measured with the boom at rest, pointed skyward (301 feet at the apex). TraPac terminal operators at Oakland also have plans to either raise cranes or bring in new, bigger cranes next year, Mr. Brandes said.

Mr. Brandes highlighted the Port’s Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan, “This is the Port’s plan on how it’s going to sustainably grow its cargo business while at the same time be responsible to the surrounding communities regarding air quality, truck traffic control, and providing local jobs.”

The Port is continuing its negotiations with the Oakland A’s regarding a proposed baseball stadium at Howard Terminal. The project includes a residential development next to the stadium. It requires multiple approvals before it can be formally considered by the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners.

Port officials say they are committed to the growth of container cargo volume. If the ballpark project goes through, the Port plans to ensure that it does not impede maritime activities.

Mr. Brandes emphasized that the Port’s investment in its facilities is a clear sign that the Port will be improving its infrastructure in ways that support maritime growth in Oakland.