Ports experience traffic issues

More trucks on the road means more traffic, and that is causing problems at some of the nation’s biggest shipping ports.


“Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the Port of Portland to ‘seek immediate independent review’ of equipment dockworkers say has caused excessive wait times for truckers at one port terminal,” reported OverdriveOnline.com. “Kitzhaber’s request marks the second time in six weeks the Democrat governor has intervened in problems at the port’s Terminal 6, Oregon’s only deep-draft container terminal.”


The article stated that delays have resulted in trucking companies reportedly charging a per-trip surcharge to serve T6 and shippers also have cited productivity problems at the terminal, which is leased by International Container Terminal Services Inc. “On Feb. 12, the port approved a one-year incentive program so the terminal’s major container line, Hanjin Shipping Co., would continue direct calls to T6,” OverdriveOnline.com reported.


Opening cargo ports and other choke points on trucking routes has become a focus for many lawmakers in recent years as the trucking sector continues to grow. The demand for trucking services is rising and that means more trucks – and more drivers – are being added to the road each month. That is causing traffic issues at some ports and Oregon is just one example of an effort underway to alleviate some of the issues.


OverdriveOnline.com reported “The International Longshore and Warehouse Union blame ‘substandard and inoperable’ equipment for productivity falling below historical averages at the terminal. Others say the delays are orchestrated by the union, “which is in the position of both identifying issues with (“red-tagging”) and repairing most of the T6 equipment,” Kitzhaber stated Feb. 26 to Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt.


“I’m not in a position to make an immediate judgment on these allegations,” Kitzhaber wrote. “However, I want the circular debate about equipment and machinery resolved.”


The growth in manufacturing and economic output means there is a demand for commercial truck drivers. However, even if manufacturing levels stayed flat, the demand for drivers would remain because of the number of current drivers who are nearing retirement.


The difficulty in finding drivers to fill vacant positions is that carriers need drivers with professional training. There is a shortage of skilled drivers in America and that is why schools like Hamrick is a great opportunity for job-seekers. In a matter of months students can receive some of the best CDL training available and are often able to find a job quickly after graduating from the program.


Not only is there a shortage of professionally trained truck drivers, but also the industry is growing and even more drivers will be needed in the coming years. Commercial truck tonnage has shown a steady increase over the past year as the economy has begun to recover and economist and employment officials continue to believe that commercial truck driving will be one of the most in-demand careers for many years. Some estimates believe an additional 539,000 drivers will be needed just to meet current demand, and that doesn’t take into account the fact that shipping demands will increase in the coming years as the economy grows or the fact that many of today’s drivers are nearing retirement.


Many current drivers are also expected to enter retirement in the coming decade, creating even more demand for professionally trained truck drivers.


“The size of the white male population of ages 35-54 – a demographic group that currently provides over half of all truck drivers – will decline by over 3 million persons between 2004 and 2014,” according to a Global Insight report. The report also found that the growth of commercial truck drivers has slowed from 1.4 percent to nearly 0.5 percent because there is a shortage of properly trained drivers.


“Over the next 10 years, economic growth will give rise to a need for a 2.2 percent average annual increase in the number of long-haul heavy-duty truck drivers, or an additional 320,000 jobs overall,” the report said. “At least another 219,000 new truck drivers must be found to replace drivers currently of ages 55 and older who will retire over the next 10 years and to replace those in younger groups who will leave the occupation.”