On Nov. 1, 2013, Port of Stockton Port Director Richard Aschieris welcomed an enthusiastic crowd to Dock 14 to join in dedicating the Northern California Marine Highway, called the M-580, which is providing an efficient method to move goods between California’s Central Valley and the Port of Oakland.

Aschieris told the group that the first barge sailed in early June 2013. Since then, the ports have gained operational experience and developed the partners who are using this service to deliver containerized cargo to the Bay Area without using trucks.

“I am pleased to report that more than 5,000 truck trips have been eliminated already from our highways, which has eliminated 453 tons of pollution from the air we breathe,” Aschieris added.

The M-580 Marine Highway is part of a $130 million, 10-year effort to improve port infrastructure and has resulted in the private sector investing more than $2 billion in projects at the port in just the last five years.

The port purchased two 140-ton Liebherr 550 mobile harbor cranes and two container-modified dedicated barges for this service. Booking cargo is the same process as booking trucked cargo. Containers can be loaded to maximum capacity that can be heavier than the 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks traveling between the ports.

Port of Stockton Vice Chair Victor Mow said these projects brought hundreds of new family-wage jobs for the community. This service has created new work opportunity for members of the local ILWU workforce by providing 475 shifts of work with an estimated value of $438,000 in wages and benefits.

This jobs creation is exclusive of the work provided to the ILWU Oakland workforce and ancillary support jobs within the trucking industry and tenant based businesses, to name a few.

“This service is a combined effort with the support of local leadership, two ports, two air quality districts, operations and marketing efforts of the ports’ staff, stevedore companies, terminal operators, shipping partners and on-dock longshore unions,” Mow said. “I am pleased to report that the

Northern California Marine Highway will generate more than $5 million in new wages on our docks in the first year of operations alone.”

Port of Stockton Deputy Director Mark Tollini provided some statistics of the service. As of the end of October 2013, 2009 containers, carrying target export commodities such as wine, waste paper, grain and tomato paste along with target imported cargoes of wine, retail, feed grain and fertilizer, have moved on the barges that have made 20 round-trips between the ports of Stockton and Oakland. The container size ratio is approximately 60 percent 40-foot and 40 percent 20-foot.

“This ‘California Green Trade Corridor’ is working on twice-weekly service to Oakland terminals, eventually to increase to four calls a week,” Tollini reported. “More than two dozen international container lines can make use of this service that takes approximately 8.5 hours to reach Oakland as the barge is pushed by Brusco Tug and Barge’s tug boats.”

this service that takes approximately 8.5 hours to reach Oakland as the

barge is pushed by Brusco Tug and Barge’s tug boats.”

Following the speakers’ presentations was a formal champagne christening of

the Northern California Marine Highway alongside the barge, “M-580 B.”