The Port of Long Beach is preparing for its future as a hub of international trade with a land-use study developed by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.
WSP USA is serving as the project manager of the comprehensive study on behalf of the Harbor Department of the City of Long Beach.
The study is evaluating future land-use strategies based on development and operational priorities – as well as forecasted cargo volumes – at the Port of Long Beach, the second-busiest container port in the U.S. The study began in 2015 and is scheduled for a December 2016 completion.
“The project is about 50 percent complete,” said Thomas Ward, project manager for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. “The tools have been created, tested and validated by the Port of Long Beach. We are now establishing planning paradigms and new site plans for the port to review.”
The firm is creating and deploying a new generation of port-wide master planning tools called the Port and Rail Integrated Modelling Environment, or PRIME. The resulting suite of software tools will enable the port to evaluate the benefits and impacts of potential future land uses and establish an informed balance among development priorities.
“PRIME integrates physical planning and operational analysis on a port-wide basis,” Ward said. “We are building these tools, feeding them information on the current state of the port, and using them to explore different paradigms for future port development.”
The study will provide Port of Long Beach officials with the ability to prepare new facility plans in response to internal and external facility requests, and then estimate the resulting costs, benefits and other impacts.
“The tools we are providing deal with the entire port in a single, integrated planning and analysis environment, allowing dynamic examination of the complex interactions of all port operational elements,” Ward said.
The tool considers an array of performance measures in its evaluations, including capacity, revenue, capital cost, energy demand, labor demand, emissions, truck traffic, rail traffic and vessel traffic. When completed, the study will be used to help create a new port master plan, supported by a master development permit under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“It will be the basis for all port development permits over the coming decade,” Ward said.
In the short term, the land-use study will allow the Port of Long Beach to quickly and fairly assess the impact of imminent changes to the port, including automation and service to bigger ships. In the long term, it will allow the port to optimize the placement of marine terminals and to enhance its ability to serve a broader market for goods movement.
“For the first time, we are able to examine all port operational variables at one time. We are able to capture and present subtle interactions between disparate parts of the port,” Ward said. “For example, we can see the relationship between vessel size and peak truck traffic, between storage density and labor cost, and between automation and emissions.”
To create the tool, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff collaborated with numerous private terminal operators and with every major bureau within the Port of Long Beach. Terminal operators provided essential operating data, while the port bureaus provided essential regulatory, cost, revenue, and environmental data, all of which needed to be programmed into the PRIME planning tool.
“The entire tool set is innovative. No one else has anything like it,” Ward said.
WSP has experience in the planning and analysis of several port terminals, and Ward said the terminal-level tools developed for these projects formed the core of the knowledge base used to create and deliver “robust, accurate, usable” interactive port-wide planning and analysis tools for the Port of Long Beach land-use study.
It has been an exciting and challenging project for Ward and his development team.
“This project offers the unique opportunity to create a new, cutting-edge, integrated planning and analysis tool,” Ward said. “It opens a new practice area for me, my team, and for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.”