Persons famliar with Secretary LaHood’s meeting with public and port officials in Oakland tell me that folks might be surprised to know which California official was most enthusiastic about the prospects for Bay Area marine highway service. Among those at the meeting were two California cabinet members (Food & Agriculture and Business, Transportation & Housing) and the director of Caltrans.
The Eco Transport project has been in development for a few years. The business plan is to reduce the need for truck moves into Oakland by deploying barges to move containers between Oakland and the Ports of Stockton, initially, and Sacramento. The company notes that such an operation also will make unnecessary a great many empty container moves and the associated costs of fuel and exhaust. Export containers could be loaded heavier in Stockton because they would not have to meet road weight restrictions. And carbon counters are sure to like the shrinking of the significant carbon footprint of trucks carrying imports into the central region, and California exports to Northern California’s principal international gateway. Indeed the company has done its due diligence to substantiate the environmental benefits of their new marine highway service. And the result has been the endorsement of regional and State air quality agencies.
So which official at the meeting revealed great eagerness and anticipation about the green barge service? It was Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura. He and the growers/shippers of the Central Valley are enthusiastic about the prospects for barges carrying goods to Oakland and then on to a ship for the export market. And when a shipper is looking forward to taking its goods to the water that’s a very encouraging sign.