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San Diego port project to expand breakbulk storage

San Diego port project to expand breakbulk storage

WASHINGTON: The Port of San Diego is about to start a two-year project to demolish obsolete transit sheds at its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in order to clear more open space for oversize breakbulk cargoes such as windmill components. A shortage of usable open storage has forced the port to reject some shipments of windmill blades, which can be as long as 200 feet. “We hope that as we create more usable, open area, we’ll be able to handle larger shipments,” said Joel Valenzuela, the port’s maritime director. The $24 million demolition project is being partly funded by a $10 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant the port received in 2015. The port recently completed an environmental review of the project and expects to begin demolition during the next two months, Valenzuela told JOC.com.

More than 350,000 sq ft of sheds will be cleared. More important will be the additional 30 acres or so of contiguous open space the port will have when the work is complete. “Now we’re trying to fit a lot of stuff into nooks and crannies around the warehouses. To have a blank slate would be great,” Valenzuela said. “Our plan is to use this space to bring in more anchor tenants.” The Tenth Avenue terminal is hemmed in by downtown San Diego to the north and by historic areas to the east and south, leaving no room to expand its 96-acre footprint. However, Valenzuela said the usable capacity gained by removing the transit sheds should provide adequate capacity through at least 2035.

The terminal handles a variety of cargo, including refrigerated containers of bananas and other fruit imports for Dole Fresh Fruit, construction materials and other bulk cargoes, and steel and project cargo shipments. Total annual volume during the last several years has averaged 2 million tons per year. Annual breakbulk volume has been flat at about 100,000 tons during the last three years, compared with about 200,000 tons a few years ago. Valenzuela said, however, that there has been a recent uptick in steel destined for factories across the Mexican border in Tijuana, just 15 miles south of the port. “As the economy improves and demand for consumer goods increases, we expect to see a lot more raw materials come through,” he said.