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Rail News: Intermodal

Congestion at major U.S. ports in the 'low' category, retail federation report says


Despite aftereffects from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the southeast, congestion levels are low and cargo is flowing at major U.S. ports, according to the October "Port Tracker" report issued by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Global Insight.

The report ranks congestion at ports in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; New York/New Jersey; Hampton Roads, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga., as low. No ports are ranked at medium or high congestion. A low ranking means there’s no serious cargo congestion, delays or diversions; a medium or high level indicates potential or serious congestion at a port or inland transportation system.

"This is good news, especially when you compare it to the labor shortages, shutdowns and other problems we’ve seen in recent years," said NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor in a prepared statement.

In September, Port Tracker ranked congestion at the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland, Calif., as medium because of hurricane-related concerns. However, the storms had minimal impact on the U.S. rail system, so the congestion rating has been dropped to low.

In August, the ports monitored in the report handled 1.38 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 11 percent compared with August 2004 and 3.5 percent compared with July 2005. Container traffic will peak at 1.42 million TEUs in October, then gradually decline to 1.24 million TEUs by February, according to a Port Tracker forecast.

Developed in response to last year’s port congestion and disruption issues, and launched in September, the report analyzes inbound container volume, the availability of trucks and rail cars, labor conditions and other factors.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/6/2005