Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2019


Port of Long Beach Harbor Cruise

By Melissa Hilsabeck | YMF Programs Committee Co-Chair

On a wonderfully sunny day in July, OC YMF and the Metropolitan LA Branch jointly hosted a Port of Long Beach harbor cruise. Approximately 70 ASCE members and their families, along with the general public, coasted through the Long Beach Harbor into the Port’s channels. The tour was narrated by Port of Long Beach staff in addition to special guest, Francisco Aragon, LA Branch President. The tour got up close and personal with the crane rail operators at Pier E in Middle Harbor which is part of the Port’s Capital Improvement Program.

The Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment Project is creating the world’s greenest container shipping terminal — nearly all electric and zero emissions. Equipped with the most advanced technologies in North America, the new facility will handle twice as much cargo as the two terminals it replaces, while dramatically cutting air pollution. The modernized wharf can handle the world’s largest ships and will strengthen the Port’s competitiveness and the local economy. The Middle Harbor construction began back in 2011 and is expected to take about nine years. The first of two phases opened in 2016. Orient Overseas Container Line, a major Hong Kong-based shipping line, agreed in 2012 to a 40-year lease to operate the new terminal through its subsidiary Long Beach Container Terminal.

The harbor cruise continued under the Gerald Desmond Bridge where folks were able to get a waterside look at the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project. When completed, the bridge will span the Port of Long Beach’s Back Channel with a deck rising 205 feet above the water! The sleek, cable-stayed bridge will include additional traffic lanes, a higher clearance to accommodate larger cargo ships, and a dedicated bicycle path and pedestrian walkway, including scenic overlooks. With two towers reaching 515 feet into the sky, it will be the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States.

As the second-busiest container seaport in the United States, the Port handles trade valued at more than $194 billion annually and supports 2.6 million trade-related jobs across the nation, more than 575,000 in Southern California. The Port encompasses 3,200 acres with 31 miles of waterfront, 10 piers, 62 berths, and 68 post-Panamax gantry cranes. In 2018, the Port handled more than 8 million container units, achieving the busiest year in its history. 

The Port provides Harbor Cruises all summer long. They currently have morning tours on the first and third Saturdays as well as the second and fourth Thursdays in the evenings. Be sure to check out the registration online. 

About the Author

Melissa Hilsabeck is a design engineer at KPFF Consulting Engineers and an alum of Cal Poly Pomona. She has been involved with ASCE for many years and is currently serving as President-Elect for OC YMF. She is also involved with OC Branch’s Professional Development Committee and serving as the Coasts, Oceans, Port and Rivers Institute (COPRI) Liaison. When Melissa is not contributing to ASCE activities, you can find her riding bikes in Huntington Beach and organizing a 5k walk for the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA).


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