The third and final phase of the Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment Project is underway and on track to be completed on time and on budget.
When finished, the facility operated by Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) will be a 311-acre modern marvel equipped with the most advanced technologies in North America and the cleanest available cargo handling equipment.
“Phase 3 completes the creation of the most innovative, efficient and clean terminal in the Americas,” said LBCT President Anthony Otto, who has worked with the Port on the modernization project from concept to fruition. “We’ve had tremendous success with the first two phases, and we’re excited to be closing in on full build-out.”
Construction began in 2011 on the container terminal designed to handle more than twice as much cargo as the two older terminals it is replacing. At completion, the facility will have an annual capacity of 3.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). Key features include a 4,250-foot-long concrete wharf for working three big ships simultaneously, 14 dual-hoist super post-Panamax cranes to accommodate 22,000-TEU ships, and an on-dock rail yard for moving 1.1 million TEUs a year.
LBCT’s state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment runs on electricity or alternative fuels. Electric-powered cranes and container transport vehicles move containers to and from ships at berth and within the container and rail yards. Alternative fuel vehicles move containers from the container yard to the rail yard.
To date, LBCT has invested more than $650 million in technology and equipment.
When finished, the terminal will employ 70 automated stacking cranes, 72 guided container transport vehicles, 50 terminal yard tractors, five dual cantilever gantry cranes within the rail yard, and multiple dedicated reefer stacking structures with a total capacity for 2,250 refrigerated cargo containers.
The Port’s construction budget for Middle Harbor is $1.493 billion. The first two phases totaled about $1 billion, and the cost of the final phase is estimated at $470 million.
“Middle Harbor is a feat of engineering and a model of sustainability,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Once the final phase is built and operating at full capacity, the Middle Harbor Terminal alone would rank as the nation’s sixth-busiest container port.”
The project’s final phase centers on the last 112 acres: building out the container yard, extending the wharf to its full length of 4,250 feet and completing the on-dock rail yard. Highlights include:
• Constructing a retention dike to complete the last stage of fill
• Driving more than 475 concrete piles to support the last 1,470 feet of wharf
• Adding 11 container storage blocks to the terminal’s container yard for a total of 36 dedicated areas for stacking containers
• Laying an additional 54,000 linear feet of track to complete the terminal’s 73,000-foot network of on-dock rail track
• Building a south truck gate complex, the second of two truck gates servicing the entire terminal
• Constructing the nearly 21,000-square-foot administration building and related parking and solar carports
Phase 3 work on the wharf and backlands began in February, the on-dock rail yard expansion started in March, and recent milestones include the arrival of new ship-to-shore cranes 11 and 12 in early June. The Port expects to begin the bidding process for the contract to build the administration offices in September. The latter will be the facility’s fifth green structure built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainability standards.
Like the first two phases, Phase 3 components are designed to maximize energy efficiency, resource conservation and recycling of materials from demolished structures. Environmental highlights of the final phase include:
• Reusing approximately 1.4 million cubic yards of dredge sediments as fill to support the construction of the last segments of wharf and container yard
• Recycling demolished concrete and asphalt from the previous structures and paved areas to use as crushed miscellaneous base material for the foundation of the new yard pavement
“Every aspect of this project is an example of the Port’s environmental stewardship,” said Senior Program Manager Monique Aguilar, who oversees day-to-day operations of the terminal redevelopment project.
As part of Phase 1, the Port built a battery-exchange building for charging, storing and exchanging batteries to support the zero-emissions container transport vehicles at the terminal. During Phase 3, the Port will construct a second battery-exchange building as a backup support facility to ensure resiliency and reliability of terminal operations.
The project has not been affected by corporate changes to LBCT’s parent company, Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International Ltd. (OOIL), which is being acquired by China’s state-owned COSCO Shipping. In response to national security concerns raised by U.S. regulators, COSCO agreed to sell LBCT to complete the $6.3 billion takeover of OOIL.
While the sale of LBCT is pending, ownership of the terminal operator is expected to be transferred to a trust. The new owner would take over the historic 40-year, $4.6 billion lease with the Port that OOIL signed in 2012.
The COSCO-OOIL merger is the latest in a series of consolidations that have swept through the maritime industry in recent years. As a result, COSCO, the ocean carrier with the world’s fourth-largest container fleet, and OOIL, which has the eighth-largest shipping fleet, will emerge as the world’s third-largest ocean shipping company.
“None of this activity has slowed the flow of cargo or the construction schedule on the ground,” Otto said.
Completing Middle Harbor
The first phase, which opened in 2016, and the second phase, which opened in 2017, completed 197 acres of new terminal, including two berths for the next generation of megaships calling now or in the future at the Port. Completing the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project will free up 2 more acres to finish the north truck gate complex, bringing the total terminal area to 311 acres when the third and final phase is done.
As it did in the earlier phases, LBCT will begin testing new equipment as each segment of Phase 3 is built. Construction is due to be completed by December 2020, with the last phase commissioned in March 2021.
As the Port completes the Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment Project, it will embark on its next major capital project, the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility. The large-scale support facility, along with smaller rail improvement projects, represents an investment of nearly $1 billion to expand rail capacity, increase operational efficiency and further reduce emissions throughout the Port by moving 35 percent or more of container cargo by rail instead of by truck. Considered the linchpin of the Port’s rail network, the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility would be a modern, full-service staging area for storing, sorting and assembling 10,000-foot trains.
The new Pier B rail yard will also be built in phases and construction is expected to take about a decade. Currently, the Port is evaluating which segments to build first so terminal operators can get the highest use of their on-dock rail yards as soon as possible, said Sean Gamette, the Port’s Managing Director of Engineering Services.
“We’re looking at what early actions would enhance cargo operations for our tenants, their customers and the entire supply chain,” Gamette said.