Business & Economy

Port of Long Beach opens temporary storage to ease congestion

File photo showing cargo carriers at the Port of Long Beach. Labor disputes have led to backups at the docks, forcing ships to idle offshore, so the port is opening a temporary storage site in hope of easing congestion.
File photo showing cargo carriers at the Port of Long Beach. Labor disputes have led to backups at the docks, forcing ships to idle offshore, so the port is opening a temporary storage site in hope of easing congestion.
Stock Photo: Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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In an effort to ease congestion, the Port of Long Beach is opening a temporary storage site for empty cargo containers.

Ongoing labor disputes have led to backups at the docks, forcing ships to sit idle offshore.

A contract between West Coast dockworkers and shipping companies expired in July, and so far there has been no sign of the two sides reaching a deal.

One sign of congestion has been a lack of available chassis. Those are the flat steel frame trailers that truckers use to haul containers in and out of the port.

The problem is that existing storage yards at the port have been so full at times that officials have not allowed the chassis to unload incoming empty containers. Now truckers will be able to unload empty containers, proceed to the yards with bare chassis and load up cargo to go to its destination.

"We feel that by making this temporary site available, it will help remedy the immediate need, which is the chassis shortage, but will also help us to assess the need going forward for such a site on a more permanent basis," said Noel Hacegaba with the Port of Long Beach.

The temporary storage site spans 30 acres. It's set to stay open at least through the end of March.

Port officials say at the peak of the congestion in November, there were sometimes more than 10 ships at anchor for the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. Over the weekend, there were no more than two at anchor.

The facilities are bracing for another busy period next month ahead of the Chinese New Year in February.