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New executive order aims to alleviate congestion at California's ports

The executive order directs state agencies to find state, federal and private land for short-term container storage while identifying freight routes for trucks so the state can temporarily exempt weight limits on the road.

Posted: Oct 20, 2021 12:25 PM

By Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN Business

(CNN) -- To alleviate cargo congestion at shipping ports in California, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Wednesday tackling the shortage of truck drivers and container storage needed to move critical cargo out of the ports.

"California's ports are critical to our local, state and national economies and the state is taking action to support goods movement in the face of global disruptions," said Governor Newsom in a statement Wednesday. "My administration will continue to work with federal, state and industry partners on innovative solutions to tackle immediate challenges while also bringing our distribution processes into the 21st century."

The executive order directs state agencies to find state, federal and private land for short-term container storage while identifying freight routes for trucks so the state can temporarily exempt weight limits on the road.

Effective immediately, the executive order comes after hundreds of cargo ships have been stuck off the coast of California over recent months -- with 64 cargo ships at anchor as of Wednesday in Los Angeles and Long Beach. In Los Angeles alone, 200,000 containers sit stuck at sea.

Those two ports move roughly 35% of all containers in the United States and approximately 40% of US imports and 25% of exports, according to the governor's office.

A key reason for the backup at the ports is what is happening on land. A nationwide worker shortage -- specifically in the trucking industry -- has slowed supply the supply chain. Trucks move the cargo from the ports, everything from food, electronics, to toys -- to warehouses or retailers. Because of the shortage of drivers, cargo sits at the port and ships can't unload.

The executive order tackles this a few ways. First, it directs the state to identify both state-owned and "non-state sites, including private, locally owned, and federally owned parcels, that could be available to address short-term storage needs to address the supply and distribution chain crisis."

And second, the state will temporarily lift limitations on how much cargo trucks can carry. It will "identify priority freight routes to be considered for a temporary exemption to current gross vehicle weight limits," the order reads.

For example, an 18-foot tractor trailer with five axels is currently capped at 34,000 pounds. That would be temporarily lifted -- allowing trucks to carry more cargo.

Addressing the labor shortage
The executive order also moves to address educational programs and training for port workers and others in the supply chain. The US is short 80,000 truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association, and is projecting a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030 if no action is taken.

The order directs California's Labor and Workforce Development Agency to use "existing resources to identify potential high road training partnerships to increase education, career technical education, job training, and workforce development opportunities for port workers and other workers across the supply chain."

While California has little control over the ships and routes they take into the privately owned ports -- the federal government does. President Biden asked the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move to 24/7 operations. But there is little demand from importers to use the overnight hours because of the lack of trucks and drivers used to move the cargo, according to the Port of LA.

"While goods movement and supply chain management challenges are largely within the purview of the federal government and industry, the state can take action to reduce the congestion in California's ports to ensure people in California and across the country and world can access goods and supplies," the order reads.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 396501

Reported Deaths: 5268
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61066850
Washington42631406
Marion40277517
Clackamas33256388
Lane30473363
Jackson25211363
Deschutes23984192
Umatilla15155184
Linn14966184
Douglas13608295
Josephine10357248
Yamhill9878145
Klamath9120152
Polk8347103
Benton622940
Malheur593592
Coos5806109
Columbia441156
Jefferson426066
Lincoln367952
Crook343958
Union341456
Wasco319646
Clatsop265435
Baker222533
Tillamook219846
Hood River217237
Morrow198425
Curry194239
Harney121733
Grant109116
Lake106318
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5127121

Reported Deaths: 74911
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153745027248
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3367395771
Sacramento1699162460
Kern1588341838
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241513
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus922291434
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511311
Shasta26353462
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793979
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163318
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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