With a legacy that stretches back for a century, the Port of Palm Beach continues to demonstrate how to efficiently operate a port while looking for ways to improve its infrastructure. Chartered in 1915, the port is based in Riviera Beach, Fla., about 80 miles north of Miami and 135 miles south of Port Canaveral. The Port of Palm Beach is ranked as one of the top 20 ports in the United States, operating on revenue earned by its tenants.

“Like all ports, we are always faced with cost challenges around capital improvement,” Executive Director Manuel Almira says. “But we are a very efficient port and have been able to make infrastructure improvements.”  

In 2002, when the U.S. government imposed a tariff on imported steel, the Port of New Orleans realized that 37 percent of its shipments were of imported steel. “That helped us to understand that we needed to diversify a little more and put our eggs in more baskets,” President and CEO Gary LaGrange relates.

Now the number of baskets the Port of New Orleans has would keep the Easter Bunny busy for a week. “We’re a very diversified port,” LaGrange emphasizes. “We like to think that we don’t have a single specialty – we have six. The cornerstone of the port is break-bulk cargo, the cargo that doesn’t go into containers, that’s on pallets and wrapped with metal bands. We have heavy-lift and project cargo capabilities. We can bring in large pieces of equipment that go into refineries and plants, put them onto a barge and send them up 14,500 miles of waterways into 22 states and four provinces of Canada without touching land or having to meet a weight restriction on highways.”

The South Jersey Port Corp. (SJPC) – which specializes in handling breakbulk and bulk cargo – is situated on the Delaware River with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Beckett Street Terminal and the Broadway Terminal, known as the Port of Camden, annually receive hundreds of ships moving international and domestic cargo through the port’s facilities. “In sheer tonnage, the South Jersey Port Corp. is one of the most productive ports in the world, and the economic impacts to the Delaware Valley region is significant,” the port says. 

In the last 20 years, the SJPC has handled imported wood products and a growing array of steel products including coil steel, slabs, wire rod, structural steel and pipe.

In 1998, the Port of Anchorage undertook a master planning effort to examine the port’s future physical needs and determine whether it needed to expand. This effort reached a turning point in 2014, when it released a “2023 Business Plan” that made recommendations for capital projects. Since its release, that plan has been further honed to reflect the port’s economic and demographic reality.

“Our business is fairly stable and predictable, and hasn’t changed very much since 1998,” Port Director Steve Ribuffo says. “There are 750,000 people in the state, and we support about 80 percent of them; they only eat so much and buy new clothes only so often, and fill their gas tanks once a week.”

The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay, port district for Oregon’s bay area, in 2009 took a giant step to improve economic opportunities in the southwest region of the state when it purchased a freight rail line that had ceased operations two years prior. After four years of infrastructure rehabilitation and an investment of more than $41 million, the 134-mile Coos Bay rail line was returned to service as Coos Bay Rail Link-CBR in late 2011.

CBR handled 7,509 revenue rail carloads or the equivalent of 24,780 truckloads of cargo in 2014, up from 4,845 carloads or 16,000 truckloads in 2013, and 2,480 carloads or 8,200 truckloads in 2012. The line serves Coos, western Douglas and western Lane Counties on Oregon’s south coast, linking the Coos Bay harbor and industrial operations in the region to the North American freight rail system at Eugene, Ore.

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