In The Media

Keeping Cargo Moving at Ports Through Design Solutions

Ports across the U.S. dealt in 2020 and early 2021 with record congestion caused by an unprecedented surge in imports. Along with engineers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, HDR’s Ports and Maritime Director Jeff Massengill spoke recently with Civil Engineering magazine about the issue and possible design solutions for ports to keep goods moving efficiently and smoothly.

Massengill pointed out the importance of approaching port design holistically, looking at how ports interact with each other, as well as how all of the parts of a port affect the whole.

“We have to develop a national freight strategic plan to evaluate local hubs and figure out what’s important from a local, state, and federal level in terms of infrastructure investment to meet our future freight movement requirements,” Massengill told the publication.

The recent severe congestion is an anomaly that will subside, but many ports are already pursuing capacity enhancements that will help improve throughput. As ship channels are deepened and widened to accommodate larger ships, for instance, many adjacent docks and terminals are also being upgraded to take advantage of the opportunity to handle larger cargo loads. In other cases, a master plan that looks at congestion can identify specific choke points in a port’s cargo flow and make incremental upgrades as needed, whether it’s widening a feeder road or upgrading a rail line. All of these changes can make a difference in ensuring that cargo moves more smoothly through a port.

Combined with the need to keep cargo moving, planning for a zero-emissions transition will be an important part of port design in the future, Massengill said. A focus on renewable energy, particularly offshore wind power, will be a key facet of upcoming port upgrades.

Read more in the article, “Will recent congestion at seaports affect long-term design?” from Civil Engineering.

Jeff Massengill
Ports & Maritime Director