American Shipper

Long Beach gets go-ahead on Middle Harbor development

Long Beach gets go-ahead on Middle Harbor development

   The Port of Long Beach on Tuesday night passed a significant hurdle in its attempt to redevelop a set of aging piers into a larger, more cohesive and efficient container terminal.

   The Long Beach City Council unanimously approved an environmental impact report on the so-called Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project, a $750 million plan to overhaul two older container terminals and other facilities into a single terminal.

   The project, approved by Long Beach’s harbor board last month, went before the city council because the environmental document was appealed by two Southern California cities and two environmental organizations that oppose the port’s plans. After a six-hour meeting Tuesday, in which 70 people provided testimony, the council denied the appeal, essentially giving the go-ahead for the project to continue.

   It’s a major fillip for Long Beach staff, which had been working for four years to get the project approved after its last attempts to overhaul a container terminal — an oddly-shaped, COSCO Pacific-operated terminal — were knocked back for not being mindful enough of the environmental effects of added cargo volume.

   Much has changed in the four years since, with green efforts dominating the port’s agenda and cargo volumes sliding amidst a global recession. The Middle Harbor project would see cargo capacity more than double the current capacity at the two terminals that would be replaced — the Long Beach Container Terminal and the California United Terminals facility.

   The port will now start working on environmental documents for its next two major projects: the replacement of the antiquated Gerald Desmond Bridge, which spans the port’s main north-south channel and isn’t high enough to allow the largest containerships in operation to pass under, nor wide enough to accommodate truck traffic from Terminal Island; and the development of Pier S, another large container terminal. ' Eric Johnson