Machine Has Bay Area Media Pumping Up Container Port
August 21, 2006
The following stories appeared today on Channel 5 and in the Oakland Tribune. It looks like the media has embraced this. Bye-bye Wildcat Marsh. Hello congestion. Guess I better start packing for the Ozarks. However, I advise those of you who are going to stick around for this boondoggle to hang on to your wallet. When the City of Richmond starts getting entrepreneurial, we are in deep trouble. Our tax dollars are still paying off the last container port Richmond built but never used. And then there was Westridge at Hilltop, purchased by the Housing Authority to make a ton of money. Now itís being propped up by the General Fund.
This would be a good thing to ask all those mayoral and City Council candidates where they stand. As of now, all but Butt and McLaughlin voted to forge ahead.
Aug 21, 2006 9:57 am US/Pacific
Richmond Considering Building A Container Port
(AP) RICHMOND A
surge in shipping
coming into West
Coast ports has
taking the first
step in looking at a
some marshland for a
(© 2006 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
Richmond eyes container port
Article Last Updated: 8/21/2006 02:45 AM
RICHMOND ó A dramatic surge in the lucrative West Coast shipping trade has Richmond officials eyeing an undeveloped stretch of marshland just north of the Chevron refinery for a possible container ship port.
California's major ports are already operating at full capacity, and as trade between the Pacific Rim and the United States grows, there is increasing economic pressure to build more ports along the state's shoreline.
With potentially millions in revenue, thousands of new jobs and a gaggle of well-heeled investors lining up at city hall, Richmond city officials are planning a port feasibility study.
The possible site is on about 500 acres of marshland. If approved, the port, which would require a major dredging operation, would cost an estimated $5 billion in private and public investment.
While there are many environmental challenges, Richmond officials say the marshlands around the mouth of Wildcat Creek, on the northern shoreline, are an almost ideal location for a port because of available land, two existing railways and easy access to major freeways.
"This is in the very early stages and there is no specific site planned yet," said City Manager Bill Lindsay. "It may be impossible for a number of reasons, but a port could bring thousands of jobs and increase city revenue, so it would be irresponsible not to fully evaluate the possibility."
One huge obstacle is the need to dredge out a massive amount of the bay's floor ó bring up mud and soil that is likely to be contaminated by decades of refinery operations. Dredging would be necessary to make the Bay deep enough for container ships to reach the port and to create a turning basin so the giant ships, some 1,200 feet-long, to turn around.
Also, port activities are associated with elevated levels of diesel emissions, which could create a health hazard in nearby residential districts such as unincorporated NorthRichmond, a low-income community that is already impacted by pollution from the area's industrial operations.
The city is negotiating with Moffat and Nichol Engineers, a Long Beach based company that designs ports, to conduct the study. Moffat and Nichol will examine site characteristics, environmental obstacles and potential financial benefits.
The council is to consider approving the study in September.
If the port is developed, JP Morgan Chase would probably take the lead in putting together the investment group for the project, which could take 15 years to complete, the city said.
The potential for another container port in the Bay Area is considerable, experts believe.
Exports to the United States are expected to nearly triple by 2010, according to a 2005 study by the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. However, there is currently not enough port capacity to accommodate the expected trade boom.
The state's major ports at Long Beach and Los Angeles are already operating at capacity. Oakland, while gaining business steadily, still has plenty of room for expansion, Port of Oakland officials say.
Local governments from the tiny fishing village of Prince Rupert in British Columbia down to Lazaro Carenas in southern Mexico are looking at their waterfront property as potential sites for container ports.
Richmond has a number of competitive advantages, according to Finance Director Jim Goins. There is enough available land to build roads, docks, and warehouse space that a port would require. The area is especially attractive because two major railroads, the Union Pacific and Burlington North & Santa Fe, are easily accessible for transporting goods inland.
And trucks would be able to use the Richmond Parkway to access interstates 580 and 80.
But there also are major challenges. Water depth off the shore is shallow, between two and 10 feet deep, so the project would require a major dredging operation to reach the deep water channel in the middle of San Pablo Bay.
The dredging could cost more than $1 billion dollars, Goins said.
There also is concern that dredging activity could awaken an environmental monster, adding to the cost. The Chevron refinery, immediately adjacent to the site, has been operating for more than 100 years, and layers of pollutants have settled on the Bay's bottom.