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The 2016 Engineering Story

In the movies, landlords collect rent and fix leaky water heaters. At the Port of Oakland, it’s not that easy. The Port is a landlord, leasing facilities to tenants, but its role goes far beyond building superintendent. The Port maintains more than $3 billion of facilities and equipment along 22 miles of East Bay waterfront property. Simultaneously it’s building additional infrastructure to support ambitious growth plans. Much of the responsibility falls to the Port’s Engineering team. Their work is usually behind the scenes – sometimes even underwater. Without it, however, key improvements taking shape at the Port wouldn’t be possible.

Take megaships, for example. Three times in 2016 the Port of Oakland received visits from the 1,300-foot-long container ship Benjamin Franklin. It’s the largest cargo vessel ever to call at a U.S. port. Years of infrastructure enhancements made the visits possible. The Port dredged its berths 50-feet deep. It raised cranes. It strengthened fenders along its docks to absorb the shock of big ships berthing. If megaships commence regular service in the TransPacific trade, Oakland will be ready thanks to infrastructure preparation.

In 2017, the Port is advancing additional infrastructure projects intended to expand its role as an international gateway. Here’s an update:

Oakland International Airport International Arrivals Building:

Construction began on this $45 million upgrade in mid-2016. It’s scheduled for completion in 2017. Among the improvements: new security screening and Automatic Passport Control kiosk area; additional baggage conveyance systems; seismic upgrades and building systems infrastructure upgrades, parking, and taxi lane modifications. Why the work is essential: international flights are booming at Oakland. This year the Airport will add new flights to Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Oakland International Airport Terminal 1 renovation:

This $100 million improvement project began in mid-2015. It’s scheduled for completion in 2017. Much of the work involves seismic retrofit and a complete refresh of dated infrastructure. New lighting is also being installed in the security checkpoint lobby. Why the work is essential: Many of the largest airlines in Oakland depart from Terminal 1. It’s also the gateway for international flights.

Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal:

In mid-2016 the Port of Oakland welcomed the first 100-car test train into this 14-track railyard. The $100 million project has now been completed. It’s part of the Port’s development on land transferred in the 1990s from the U.S. Army. The terminal will provide storage space and capacity to handle long trains. Why the work is essential: It will support a Seaport Logistics Complex envisioned next door. The intermodal terminal should attract shippers who need to quickly transfer between ship and rail.

Cool Port:

Construction is scheduled to begin early in 2017 on this $91 million seaport project. The temperature-controlled facility is expected to process 750,000 tons of beef and pork shipments annually. Two privately owned logistics companies will jointly build and operate Cool Port. The Port will manage $7 million of infrastructure improvements including a rail extension to the site. Why the work is important: Cool Port can make Oakland the nation’s leading gateway to Asia for meat products. It’s expected to bring an additional 30,000 20-foot containers worth of cargo through Oakland. That could translate into hundreds of new jobs in Oakland.

Seaport Logistics Complex:

Negotiations are progressing with a developer who’ll build this 30-acre transload warehouse campus at the former Army base. It will go in next door to the Port’s new railyard. Infrastructure work adjacent to the site – such as utilities trunk line installations - concluded in 2016. The Port also began relocating short-term tenants to make way for construction that could start in 2017. Why the work is important: The complex is seen as a magnet for logistics companies specializing in ship-to-rail cargo transfers. It could significantly increase cargo volume in Oakland without a concurrent rise in truck traffic.

Crane raising:

TraPac marine terminal concluded a lease agreement in 2016 to double its footprint at the Port of Oakland. Expansion plans including raising two ship-to-shore cranes 26-feet higher. That work should commence in 2017. Oakland International Container Terminal has also signaled its intent to raise the height of four cranes. Why the work is important: Larger ships continue to flood into the TransPacific trade. Taller cranes are essential to work these vessels capable of carrying up to 18,000 20-foot containers.