LA, Long Beach Port Execs Outline 2024 Goals, Priorities

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka (left) speaks to an audience of more than 500 people during his annual “State of the Port” speech. Image via Port of Los Angeles.

During their annual “State of the Port” speeches in January, the heads of the adjoining Los Angeles and Long Beach seaports outlined their goals and priorities, which include increasing market share, cleaning the environment and developing wind energy.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka gave his ninth annual “State of the Port” address on Jan. 10 at the POLA’s World Cruise Center terminal. The speech took place as part of a luncheon attended by about 550 community, business and labor stakeholders. The event was sponsored by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

During his nearly 40-minute speech and presentation, Seroka presented the port’s top initiatives and plans for 2024, including workforce development and improving infrastructure to handle additional cargo. He detailed, among other things, the POLA’s capital improvement projects and commitment to sustainability and the environment.

Regarding the port’s 10-year capital improvement program, major projects outlined by Seroka during the speech include:

  • Completion this year of the port’s $73 million Pier 400 Corridor Expansion.
  • Ongoing roadway, rail and site design work on the $195 million Terminal Island Maritime Support Facility. 
  • Final design on the $52 million on-dock railyard expansion at Pier 300 Fenix Marine Services terminal, slated to break ground in 2025.
  • Seismic upgrades at the port’s Shell Oil and PBF Energy liquid bulk facilities.

Also this year, Seroka said, the port’s expected to accelerate its green hydrogen plans, bolstered by the announcement last fall of up to $300 million in federal funding for development of “hydrogen hub” operations in the San Pedro Bay port complex, which includes the adjoining Port of Long Beach.

LA and Long Beach have said they plan to match the funding with up to $300 million in combined investments. LA is planning to use that funding to deploy dozens of hydrogen-powered cargo-handling pieces of equipment to construct the necessary hydrogen-fueling terminal infrastructure.

The green hydrogen investments are in addition to the 195 zero-emission Class 8 over-the-road trucks already in operation at both ports. Seroka said plans are underway to boost those numbers, in part by offering incentives under the port’s Clean Truck Fund Rate program, which has collected more than $115 million to date to help facilitate a changeover to cleaner trucks serving the port complex.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. Image via Port of Long Beach.

Later this year, Seroka said, the POLA is expected to further its commitment to creating Green Shipping Corridors that focus on reducing carbon emissions along key international shipping routes through the use of zero-emission trucks and terminal equipment and gradually cleaner vessels fuels.

Five of the major ocean carriers that call on the San Pedro Bay ports will be testing lower-carbon fuels in the coming years as part of these various Green Shipping Corridor programs. To date, the Port of LA has established green shipping partnerships with eight ports in China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. 

Seroka reported that in 2023—and for the 24th straight year—the Port of LA ranked as the No. 1 container port in the U.S. When final data is available later this week, he said, the port will have processed more than 8.6 million container units in 2023, which is a decline of about 13% compared to the previous year.

However, he said, the POLA saw a strong rebound in the last five months of 2023, as well as an uptick in market share.

“The good news is that global trade is now edging up and we are looking forward to a return to more normal cargo volume levels in the year ahead,” he said.

Among the port’s ongoing and upcoming community-related initiatives are several transportation projects to ease truck and commuter traffic. For example, he said, a new Harbor Boulevard onramp and offramp upgrade between the Vincent Thomas Bridge and Harbor Freeway will break ground this year.

Seroka also reported that 219 cruises set sail from the POLA in 2023 with a record 1.3 million passengers. Each cruise generates more than $1.2 million in local payroll and business activity, according to the port.

Long Beach

A week after Seroka’s address, Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Mario Cordero took the stage at the Long Beach Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom to talk about how the agency is modernizing its rail facilities and enhancing air quality.

During his seventh annual ‘State of the Port’ address, presented Jan. 17 in front of an audience of about 800 people, Cordero announced that construction is expected to begin later this year on the port’s Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which aims to move cargo more quickly, make the port more competitive and improve the environment for nearby communities.

As the centerpiece of the POLB’s on-dock rail projects, the Pier B On-Dock Rail facility would move freight faster and more sustainably, Cordero said.

Specifically, he said, it would double the size of the existing Pier B rail yard to 171 acres and more than triple the volume of on-dock rail capacity handled annually to 4.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

The port has said that more than 1,100 construction-related jobs would be created by the $1.567 billion project, which is being built in phases and is scheduled for completion in 2032. So far, the POLB has secured $643 million in federal, state and local grant funding to help complete the facility—more than $500 million of which was awarded in 2023.

In all, more than $792 million in grants from federal, state and local sources were secured in 2023, marking a record year of public investments for infrastructure, security and clean air initiatives that will further the Port of Long Beach’s goal to transition to zero-emission cargo handling by 2030 and zero-emissions trucking by 2035.

“At the end of this decade, the Port of Long Beach will be on the cusp of not only operational transformation given our rail investment, but also environmental transformation—to a zero-emission port,” Cordero said.

The executive also said he anticipates additional funding over the coming year for several projects, including Long Beach’s effort to develop a “hydrogen hub” that would fuel cargo-handling equipment with zero-emissions technology.

Additionally, the port has said that progress is expected to continue through the next year to develop Pier Wind, a proposed 400-acre terminal designed to facilitate the assembly of offshore wind turbines, which would be towed to wind farms in the ocean off the Central and Northern California coasts.

If approved, the project would be the largest facility of its kind in the nation and would help California meet its goals for renewable energy sources. In 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom set benchmarks for the state to reach 90% clean electricity by 2035 and 95% by 2040, moving toward California’s previously established goal of 100% by 2045. This means energy would come in part from renewable sources, including solar and wind.

Regarding container volumes, Long Beach ended 2023 with more than 8 million TEUs moved, a 12.2% decline from 2022 and slightly ahead of pre-pandemic levels reported in 2019. Imports declined 12.7% to 3.8 million TEUs and exports decreased 9.4% to 1.28 million TEUs. The number of empty containers moved through the port annually fell 12.7% in 2023 to 2.93 million TEUs, according to port data.  

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at (619) 313-4351 or