US infrastructure spending imbalance must change says Port of LA

Aerial view of Port of Los Angeles with cranes, gantries, and shipping containers

The national spending imbalance between West Coast ports and ports in the Gulf and East Coast of the US “has to change” in the long term, according to the Executive Director at the Port of Los Angeles.

Federal government spending on Gulf and East Coast ports has outpaced West Coast infrastructure spending at a rate of 11:1, said Gene Seroka, Executive Director at the Port, in a 2 September update on short- and long-term solutions to the ongoing supply chain crisis.

“That has to change, and our port communities must drive it,” Seroka said.

The port’s recommendations, due to be submitted to Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of Transportation, argued that in the short-term incentives to improve turnaround times and dual transactions should be introduced; terminals should digitise data to improve cargo visibility; ports should work more closely with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) on gate management; and, with 30% of truck appointments unused, existing capacity could be better utilised.

“Of particular note right now, in addition to the work on the ground [we] need to solve those 30% of truck appointments that go unused in the night time. We believe digitisation can help here,” Seroka said.  

In the long-term, the LA Port noted that US supply chain digitalisation was 30 years behind other nations, and recommended further federal government power and financing to invest in infrastructure and create a pipeline of skilled labour.

The update comes as Southern Californian ports saw record numbers of vessels at anchor waiting outside the ports of the San Pedro Bay on 31 August.

The congestion facing the major ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is just the latest in a sky-high surge in goods traffic flowing through the gateways.

The pandemic-led surge in e-commerce, combined with bottlenecks in inland transport capacity, has led to congestion at many ports around the US.

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