West Coast Ports Steady, but East Coast Still Shows Promise
After a period of delays and issues, West Coast ports, namely the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are back up and running smoothly. However, Fortune reported that East and Gulf Coast ports could still become a go-to destination for many international shipping companies.
The Georgia Port Authority reported a 28 percent year-over-year increase in container volumes for March. The Port of Charleston, and the Port of New York and New Jersey saw volume increases of 13.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. New York and New Jersey's increase reached record volumes.
While much of this increase was due to the congestion at ports such as Los Angeles and Seattle, other factors point to a prolonged increase in volume at East Coast ports in the future. The Panama Canal is set for an expansion, allowing more international shipping vessels to reach the Gulf and East Coast ports.
USA Today reported that the $5.25 billion expansion of the canal is set for completion next April. This would allow ships carrying up to 14,000 containers to go through.
Meanwhile, multiple ports on the East and Gulf coasts are undergoing construction to allow for more shipping volume. Projects include deepening the Port of New York and New Jersey channels by 50 feet, raising the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet, modernizing container terminals and installing dock rails. This project is estimated to be complete in 2016.
By July of this year, the Port of Miami will have new cranes, a rail service linking the port to the mainland, and a deeper main harbor by 10 feet. Finally, the Port of Mobile, Ala., has already completed a new container terminal, new roads and rail bridges.
The Ports of Long Beach and Seattle/Tacoma are also slated for upgrades, but those are estimated to be completed at least two years after the East Coast Port construction and Panama Canal expansion.