Expansion of East Coast Ports to Impact Trucking Routes
Upgrades to ports to accommodate larger Asian ships means less long distance hauling coast to coast.
As major East Coast ports expand to accommodate larger cargo ships from Asia, commercial trucking is expected to shift from long haul, coast to coast, to regional transport. The completion of the Panama Canal expansion project in June of 2016 widened and increased the depth of the canal to allow for massive Neopanamax ships as large as 1,201 feet and 13,000 TEUs, or Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, which is a measurement of cargo volume based on 20-foot shipping containers.
With larger ships from Asia now able to navigate the Panama Canal and access the East Coast, and the ongoing expansion of ports in New Jersey, New York, Baltimore, and others, goods will no longer need to be transported from the West Coast in long haul trucks.
A study conducted by C.H. Robinson and Boston Consulting Group suggests that up to 10 percent of commercial shipping traffic could move to the East Coast by 2020. With such a major shift, businesses are anticipated to change how they invest and route retail and truck carriers, as well as scrutinize port options. Steve Raetz, director of research and marketing intelligence for C.H. Robinson anticipates a gradual shift as more ports complete upgrades and host larger ships.
As freight traffic changes, so will trucking companies’ strategies for assigning resources, routes, and labor, Raetz stated.
Ports on the East Coast are already seeing change. The ports in Charleston, SC and Savannah GA have already docked a record breaking large ship, the 13,209-TCU OOCL France. The Port of Virginia experienced 12 percent volume increase over the last year despite 30 less ships. The port has had to add more gates to accommodate the increase in trucks.
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