Desert “port” planned to relieve San Pedro Bay congestion

Kern County approves 400-acre container hub 90 miles from LA

Los Angeles overflowing with shipping containers
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)

It could be a shipless port in the middle of the Mojave desert, built to receive thousands of containers sent by rail from congested Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Kern County is looking to relieve a maritime logjam by approving California’s first-ever inland port near the crossroads desert town of Mojave, the Antelope Valley Press reported.

Pioneer Partners, a developer based in Houston, plans to build the Mojave Inland Port on 410 acres at the southeast corner of highways 14 and 58, north of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The proposed facility would handle an estimated 1 million cargo containers shipped 90 miles by rail to Mojave, from the ports in San Pedro Bay. They would be transferred to trucks for distribution, with empty containers shipped by rail back to the ports.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has approved the facility. Pioneer is expected to break ground on the project next year, and open in 2024.

“Being surrounded by the dense urban areas of Long Beach and South Los Angeles, there is limited real estate available,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a statement. “The Mojave Inland Port is the type of innovative solution that will alleviate congestion and allow dockworkers to do their jobs more efficiently, getting goods to businesses and consumers faster.”

The congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is caused by not enough space for handling the containers, Morgan Hill of Pioneer Partners told the Kern County board.

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National container volume is expected to rise to 34 million by 2030, from 20 million containers today. The Mojave Inland Port will be a critical relief valve, its developer said, absorbing a major portion of the growing traffic
“They’re out of land. Well, we can help,” Hill said.

The Mojave Inland Port would serve as a branch of the ports, linked by 2-mile-long trains carrying containers along the Alameda Corridor track. A Union Pacific branch line runs through the Mojave site.

Once fully operational, the Mojave Inland Port could handle as many as 3,600 trucks per day, operating around the clock, its developer said. The nearby Mojave Air and Space Port, with its lengthy runway, could also assist with cargo traffic.

“We can say, when it comes to moving goods, we have four options: rubber tire, rail, air and space. Not many people can say that,” Hill said.

The Mojave Inland Port is expected to generate nearly 3,000 jobs, $73 million in property tax revenue for Kern County, add $100 million in revenue to the Alameda Corridor and contribute $500 million to the economy.

“I see this as a win-win across the board, from businesses to consumers and anyone else who relies on the timely delivery of even the most ordinary household goods, that we all generally take for granted, except when we’re not able to get them,” Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner said.
— Dana Bartholomew

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