Thursday, March 06, 2008

Problems in the Port of Bridgeport

I think this story, about the sale of a section of the port of Bridgeport in the Connecticut Post, is important but it's hard to tell because it has so many lose threads, some of them so small they're really filaments, that I'm not sure what's going on or what the big pucture really is. Here are some facts I was able to pick out of the story:
  • Longshoremen are selling a terminal that they bought in the 1990s to keep a company from going out of business.
  • A company that operates a terminal in Bridgeport is moving to Philadelphia because Pennsylvania has offered tax breaks that Connecticut has not offered
  • Another reason the company is moving is because the harbor in Bridgeport needs to be dredged
  • there's also no rail access to the harbor; a rail line, makes it easier to move goods after they arrive
  • the company seems to be a big banana importer (Bridgeport is known as a center of banana imports).
  • steel imports have also dropped a lot
  • the terminal area might be turned into condos or a mixed use development
Put is all together and what do you get? I'm not sure. But it seems like something bad is happening to one of Long Island Sound's biggest ports.



Anonymous Bryan said...

There's an echo here from NYC, which has (had) a history of being a port for bananas (and cocoa beans). I recall that the banana terminal was on the East River, perhaps just north of the NY Post building. The cocoa bean terminal is in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue and is still active. Neither of these terminals have rail access either.

I'm not even vaguely familiar with the banana history, but perhaps a reader is. It might help to sort out the future of Bridgeport.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I'm not sure if banana dock history can help, although it seems like the industry is being consolidated into a few high-volume ports such as San Diego and Tacoma on the West Coast, and Galveston and New York on the East Coast. Of course back years ago there were many more secondary markets.

The classic banana boat was a "tramp steamer" with large cargo holds. Dole and others have now gone to very fast, modular container ships with containers that fit on semi-trucks, which reduces the need for stevedores and longshoremen. A crew of 6 can unload a refrigerated container ship of bananas where it used to take about 30 burly men.

Many port rules, however, required the use of unionized stevedores and longshoremen ... and thus shippers and banana companies such as Dole and Chiquita turned their business to terminals that had computers, automated crane loading, and efficient dockside unloading. As an example, union rules in Los Angeles prohibited the use of computers until fairly recently, since having computers would reduce the need for dozens of supervisors with hand-written log sheets.

Globalization and productivity probably means that Bridgeport is headed the way of either a diversified container port or condominiums. With the intense competition for container ship traffic at the need for 40-foot channels, it's looking more like condos, I'm afraid. /sam

10:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker