Look Before You Leap

Some of the figures being published with respect to the Gerald Desmond Bridge are typos. They must be. When the MSC Texas was passing under the bridge on the 15th of October, it was reported that the vessel’s height of 196 feet came within six to ten feet of the bridge. But the Replacement Project published on the port’s website lists a clearance height of only 156 feet, so there’s a misprint somewhere. Which of the quoted measurements is accurate and which is inaccurate is immaterial in this discussion because a number of important factors mitigate against the unnecessary expenditure of the $ 700 million estimated to be the cost for demolition and replacement of the bridge. ($ 700 million is a lot of money!) The point is, that complete and accurate information should be made available to all residents so that the community can properly determine the correct course to steer. The details being presented in this website must especially be disseminated, and for starters the following points should be emphasized.

1. A total of 29 West Coast ports participated in the 2002 shutdown. Along with LA/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego, some of the other ports involved were; Richmond, Port Hueneme, Stockton, Redwood City, Coos Bay, Bellingham, Everett, Kalama, Longview and Olympia. Most of the ports in this group not already equipped to handle containers soon will be. Secretary Minetta tipped us off about that. The Office of Management and Budget has likewise given us a hint or two about its reluctance to fund dredging projects that benefit only mega-ships but increase port congestion. Remember also that these mega-ships aren’t Jones Act ships, so why should this nation’s taxpayers and consumers subsidize offshore owners by funding dredging projects and demolishing and rebuilding bridges, especially if it can be shown that there is a more efficient and profitable way to handle the increased volumes of TEUs in the coming years.

2. This alternative won’t cost the taxpayers $ 700 million either. The progression from chaos to order will be quick, smooth and profitable for everyone, from the beginning of the chain to the end, and it won’t be an expense to the port or to taxpaying citizens. As an added bonus, valuable and unneeded coastal acreage will be returned to the community for more practical uses.

3. Shipowners will find a use for the mega-ships already in service. In the future these owners will have a more difficult time filling these ships, warns Neil Davidson, and would realize far greater profits if they used smaller, more manageable vessels. These smaller vessels, easier to fill and costing considerably less to build, will serve the Port of Long Beach as well as the new container ports. So save the bridge and the $ 700 million.

4. A profitable, programmed and orderly distribution of containers in widespread localities will generate more employment opportunities and eliminate the friction that exists between management and labor. The friction, after all, boils down to money. It has always boiled down to money because the bottom line has always been a sparse one. But that was then, and this is now. With our patented systems in place up and down the coast, all shortcomings, drawbacks, obstacles, confrontations, etc., will no longer be a concern.