They keep missing the on-ramp!

If we sent one message over the past eight years (via fax and e-mail) to the officials in California, we must have sent hundreds. So, were we accurate when we used the word “stupidity” in Article 19? You be the judge. Referring them to our website, here’s what we called to their attention:

1. On October 6th, 2004 (On a Tangent) – “Please review item # 6 on this website’s Problems and Solutions page. The problem side clearly but briefly acknowledges that inspections are severely hampered in container terminals because of hasty and random stacking. This is a result of what has been stated above and needs to be repeated; ‘There’s not enough space, there’s not enough time, there’s not enough personnel, there’s not enough money, etc., etc. …’

“On the solutions side of that ledger it states that our patented system assures that inspections will be smooth, efficient and unhampered. Our system requires that each container, assigned to a predetermined slot prior to arrival, must first pass through an x-ray scanner. Then it is stored in its programmed slot. Because our system uses a small fraction of the acreage now committed to present day terminal operations, there’s no lack of space for scanning procedures. Because our system does away with unnecessary repositioning moves, there’s no lack of time for scanning procedures. Because our system permits timely hiring and training procedures, there’s no shortage of personnel. Because our system requires so little in the way of material handling equipment and general maintenance, there’s no lack of money.” –

2. On October 7th, 2004 (A Ticking Clock) – “These patented storage and retrieval systems will provide other benefits as well. Consider for a moment the impact that PostPanamax container ships will have upon our environment as well as our pocketbooks. Conrad Everhard, as moderator at the Port Industry Day symposium four years ago, reminded those in attendance that massive and costly dredging will be required in order to accommodate those giant vessels. He stated that public funding of these dredging programs amounted to a subsidy for those companies building those vessels. In support of this position, at a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the AAPA in June of 2001, James Hartung advised that dredged deep-water ports used as hubs by these giant vessels in a hub-and-spoke system of operation would actually, ‘… decrease the efficiency of the marine transportation system and skew the economic benefits’.” –

3. On October 13th, 2004 (Charting the Course) – “Mr. Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and certainly one of the best known of these authorities, stated about a year ago, that of the 361 ports in the U.S. only 60 are presently equipped to handle containers. He predicted, however, that another 200 ports will be handling containers in the pressing years to come. From his vantage point he is able to survey and evaluate the entire length of the nation’s stressed out supply chain, and his unique position enables him to see more clearly not only the hurdles that must be overcome, but also those that must be sidestepped … Mr. Neil Davidson of Drewry Shipping Consultants in London was even more direct a few months ago when he stated that; ‘The bigger the ship, the more transshipment and feedering you need, and that costs money …

“With ports under pressure to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion caused by trucks, they will not, as they did in the past, automatically build bigger terminals and dredge their harbors deeper each time carriers introduce a new generation of ships. Eventually, ports will say, “We can’t do it anymore.” That’s the double-edged sword Mr. Everhard was warning us about at Port Industry Day back in 2000. ‘Public funding of dredging amounts to a subsidy of shipping companies building such vessels,’ he said. Mr. Everhard’s assessment was an accurate one. First, we pick up the tab for the dredging, then as a result of this dredging we’re forced to eat the added cost of transportation from faraway ‘king ports’.

“If you read between the lines, this is what Mr. Mineta was implying. By offloading container ships at ports closer to the end user, instead of at distant ‘king ports’, the industry will reduce traffic congestion, vehicle pollution, and across-the-board expenses for the taxpayer and consumer. Smaller, shallow draft ships, readily available at a lower cost to shipping lines, will service these conveniently located ports and require no dredging. Mr. Secretary foresees a win-win scenario.”

4. On October 14th, 2004 (Plus Signs), we listed some “corrective measures of that ‘scenario’:

– Allow ships unhampered access to and from preassigned berths,
– Provide quick and efficient servicing of these vessels by longshoremen,
– Scan every container,
– Eliminate expensive container handling equipment,
– Position every container in a preassigned slot,
– Require no repositioning of containers prior to retrieval and delivery,
– Allow for an in-house, programmed delivery system by salaried drivers,
– Require no gates,
– Release valuable acreage for other uses (or for future expansion),
– Provide valuable acreage for warehousing and cross-docking facilities,
– Eliminate traffic tie-ups within terminals and in surrounding communities,
– Reduce pollution caused by idling vehicles and outmoded material handling equipment,
– Eliminate long distant delivery,
– Ease the burden on truck drivers,
– Ease the burden on railroads,
– Reduce costs to the end user,
– Increase profits for terminals and port authorities,
– Eliminate the need for dredging.
– Eliminate the need for taxpayers to assume dredging costs,
– Create employment opportunities presently restricted by cramped operations,
– Create employment opportunities in those 200 additional container ports,
– Provide lower costs and higher profits to shipping lines,
– Require the development of short-sea shipping,
– Increase the need for Jones Act ships and barges,
– Revive U.S. shipbuilding,
– Create employment opportunities in U.S. shipyards.” –

[On second thought, maybe we were being overly diplomatic when we used the word “stupidity”.]