California’s Green Trade Corridor project underway

Construction of California’s Green Trade Corridor, a TIGER grant funded project to increase the share of freight moving on inland waterways between the Port of Oakland and California’s Central Valley, began last fall.  The project is sponsored by a partnership between the Port of Oakland, the third-largest container port on the U.S. West Coast, and the Ports of Stockton and West Sacramento. It will set the stage for container-on-barge operations linking the three ports via the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers.  Although the waterways linking the ports currently carry a significant amount of bulk freight, until now the Ports of Stockton and West Sacramento have not been capable of handling containerized goods.

The project is located on the M-580 Marine Highway Corridor, a waterway which roughly parallels Interstate 580, one of the nation’s most congested highways. By enabling the movement of containerized goods on the waterway, the project will reduce air emissions and congestion in the corridor. To facilitate the movement of containers, the $30 million in TIGER grant funding will go towards:

  • Purchase of container cranes at the Ports of Stockton and West Sacramento;
  • Purchase of a specialized container barge;
  • Construction of a cargo staging area at the Port of Stockton;
  • Construction of a transloading facility at the Port of West Sacramento, where agricultural goods can be packed into containers for shipping overseas; and
  • Installation of electrical connections at the Port of Oakland to allow ocean-going ships to shut down their diesel engines while at berth.

Currently, about 25 percent of the Port of Oakland’s trade volume flows to and from the Central Valley, the vast majority of which moves on area highways. With cargo volumes at the Port expected to grow by 65 percent over the coming decade and area highways already experiencing severe congestion, the Green Trade Corridor project will provide needed capacity and help relieve growing freight-related congestion in the region.

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) estimates that the project will eliminate a total of approximately 180,000 truck trips per year on I-80, I-205, and I-580, saving about 7 million gallons of fuel.

William Lewicki, Director of Human Resources and Administrative Services at the Port of Stockton will be discussing this innovative project at SSTI’s upcoming Community of Practice meeting in Seattle, later this month.