California Ports Overwhelmed by International Trade

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles comprise the busiest port complex in the nation. Southern California is paying a heavy price in traffic congestion and air pollution, although it is one of the major employers of the region. It is expected that trucking in and out of these ports will increase by 70 percent, and the newly built rail system is expected to grow by 150 percent. With this in mind, many importers and exporters are looking at alternative ways to get their freight to inland destinations. Jon Havemen, an economist with the San Francisco based Public Policy Institute of California, pointed out that international trade handled by the California gateways which doubled between 1974 and 1995, is beginning to diminish because of the state's congested infrastructure. Haveman also points out that California's ports need the increased revenues from port fees to keep up with the continued building requirements of the transportation infrastructure. Major importers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot are shipping cargoes to Savannah from the Far East to the mega-distribution centers in Georgia. He says that the state's politicians need to begin addressing the problems today, so that the next generation of politicians and shipping executives can deal with the increased through-put.