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Rail News: Intermodal

Portland port expects rebound in 2014; South Carolina ports earn emission-reduction award


The Port of Portland, Ore., in 2013 handled 11,937,580 tons of freight, down 3.4 percent compared with 2012's total.

Although import container volume climbed 13.3 percent to 82,336 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), export container volume fell 11.5 percent to 96,115 TEUs, dropping total container volume 2.6 percent year over year to 178,451 TEUs. In addition, auto volume declined 7.6 percent to 262,512 units, breakbulk volume decreased 8.3 percent to 903,067 units, export grain volume tumbled 12.7 percent to 3,511,490 tons.

"While tonnage was down slightly for the calendar year, the port finished 2013 with one of the highest volume months in recent history with 1.3 million tons handled in December and posted fiscal-year gains at the halfway point that bode well for the year ahead," port officials said in a press release.

Because of increasing Ford vehicle exports to China and Korea, higher demand for mineral exports and a $40 million expansion of Columbia Grain's Terminal 5 grain facility, the outlook for exports this year appears promising, they said.

Among other reasons for optimism: The port has removed antiquated equipment, enhanced rail and road infrastructure, and added capacity at storage facilities, said officials at the port, which is served by BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad.

In addition, Auto Warehousing Co. completed a $2.8 million project last year to expand its processing building; Archer Daniels Midland Co. constructed a new sweetener terminal; Ajinomoto North America added a 9,000-square-foot consumer foods division office and a research/development center; and Daimler Trucks North America is building a new headquarters at the port.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recently honored the South Carolina Ports Authority's (SCPA) emission-reduction efforts with a "Spare the Air" Award.

Established in 2008, the award recognizes the leadership and voluntary commitment of companies, governments and other entities in the state for promoting and demonstrating air-quality improvements.

SCPA has reduced port-related pollutants by 50 percent since 2005 through equipment upgrades, partnerships and operational commitments. The authority employs a "clean truck" program, modernizes equipment, reduces gate turn times, and collaborates with state and local organizations to promote air quality initiatives, SCPA officials said in a press release.

In addition, the authority opened an inland port in Greer last month that aims to remove 25,000 truck moves from Interstate 26 in its first year of operation, as well as save fuel, reduce emissions and alleviate traffic congestion in the area.

Served by Norfolk Southern Railway, the inland port will improve the efficiency of international container movements between the Port of Charleston, upstate South Carolina and neighboring states, SCPA officials said. An overnight train moves double-stack containers to and from the Port of Charleston's seaport facilities.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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