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Board President Calls for Passage of Water Resource Development Act

Press Releases, Seaport, Airport, Community
May 14th, 2010

Press Releases

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2010

Port of Oakland Board President Calls for Passage of Water Resource Development Act 2010

Oakland, CA–05-14-10 –President of the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, Victor Uno, spoke before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works last week in Washington, D.C. President Uno called for the passage of the Water Resource Development Act 2010 (WRDA).

President Uno stated, “As someone who started his career working on public works projects like those created by WRDA, and who has spent 25 years training young people and creating new jobs, I can speak from experience when I say now more than ever we need your help. I have never seen such a challenging job market in California.” President Uno added, “And at the same time, as the President of the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, I have never seen a larger backlog of critical projects that are desperately needed to modernize our ports and keep them competitive in the global marketplace for trade and shipping.”

President Uno testified that at the Port of Oakland, “We are working daily to protect the thousands of jobs directly connected to our facilities, and the tens of thousands of jobs and businesses whose success depend on our ability to compete for trade and goods movement.”

Mr. Uno talked about the Oakland seaport as facing unprecedented competition from Canada and Mexico. Both countries are developing comprehensive national freight shipping programs, supported by all levels of government, coordinated with private rail companies and shipping firms. Both Canada and Mexico have invested heavily in major port modernization and expansion projects that have fundamentally challenged the U.S. Pacific Coast trade network.

Uno talked about a new climate of cooperation among ports on the US West Coast to work together to regain its freight business. Uno emphasized, “...but we cannot compete and win if we do not have a partner in the Federal Government. It is only with your help that we can secure the investments we need in our infrastructure so we can bring back jobs and trade during the ongoing economic recovery.”

Oakland’s maritime and aviation operations are both deeply affected by WRDA. WRDA is critical to funding the large scale modernization projects. In 2001, for example, using the authority given by WRDA (bill passed in 1999), construction began on the Port of Oakland's $436 million, 50-foot depth, dredging project that has now given Oakland the ability to support the latest generation of larger, more efficient container vessels.

The Port of Oakland owns and operates Oakland International Airport. The Port of Oakland is under federal obligation now to re-construct the airport levee. Since the levee is no longer given accreditation under FEMA's flood programs, Oakland International Airport must now obtain federal flood insurance. This is an additional cost on top of the private flood insurance the Port of Oakland already carries. Failure to obtain the federal flood insurance would make the airport largely ineligible for federal disaster assistance in the event of a levee failure.

Reconstructing the airport levee at Oakland international Airport is estimated to cost approximately $60 million. That is why the Port of Oakland will be asking for federal support to help rebuild the airport levee to modem standards, reduce its vulnerability in the event of a major earthquake, and complete all of the environmental wetlands mitigation required under state and federal law.

The Port of Oakland is already working in cooperation with the US Army Corps to expedite this levee work. If Oakland can obtain WRDA authority this year to construct the levee project, it will preserve the tens of thousands of individual jobs and businesses that rely on a vibrant and well-functioning airport every day.

Uno concluded, “We need WRDA. On behalf of the Port, I ask you to do everything within your power to pass WRDA and give us the resources we need to create jobs, protect against natural disasters, modernize our infrastructure and promote economic growth in our region.”

For the entire testimony please go to: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_id=4b8b8d4c-802a-23ad-44e6-1b546f908652

About the Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport and 20 miles of waterfront. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport, offering over 140 daily flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Please visit: www.portofoakland.com.

Media Contacts:

Marilyn Sandifur, Port Spokesperson
Media & Public Relations Department
(510) 627-1193
msandifur@portoakland.com