Major Port of Oakland project could have $1 billion upside
A Port of Oakland infrastructure project could boost economic output by $1 billion while improving agricultural export flow. That’s the conclusion of Washington State University economists studying a proposed $515 million fix for a major Port gateway, the company said in its press release.
Researchers from WSU’s Freight Policy Transportation Institute said this month that upgrading the Port’s Seventh Street entrance would provide myriad benefits. Among them:
A $1.1 billion boost in economic output for Oakland and surrounding counties;
375 new jobs; and
An improved supply chain for U.S. exporters, especially those shipping farm goods overseas.
WSU Associate Prof. Eric Jessup presented his findings last week to tree nut exporters at a U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored symposium. The university and USDA are hosting four workshops around the country to advance the process of prioritizing infrastructure projects. The focus is on projects that improve agricultural export supply chains.
The Port is working with Alameda County’s Transportation Commission to eliminate cargo-hauling bottlenecks at Seventh Street. The thoroughfare is a major gateway on the Port’s westside.
Seventh Street fixes would include separating freight rails from the street, heightening and widening underpass clearance and introducing technology to ease traffic congestion. Design work is underway on the project. The Port and county are seeking federal grants to finance the work that could go on until 2023.
Oakland handles 59 percent of all U.S. edible nut exports, Prof. Jessup said. The Port is adjacent to the Central and San Joaquin valleys where most of the nation’s $7.6 billion worth of nut exports are produced. The crop includes almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
Nuts are the third-largest U.S. agricultural export. Nuts and dried fruits are the Port of Oakland’s second-largest export category.
Oakland is considered a leading agricultural export gateway because of its proximity to California’s fertile growing regions. According to the Port, growers also choose Oakland because of its position on the Pacific Rim. Oakland is the last U.S. stop for many container ships before they return to Asian markets. That means exports loaded in Oakland spend less time on the ocean, thereby extending shelf life.
Prof. Jessup said construction spending would provide the biggest economic benefit from fixing Seventh Street at the Port. Job gains would be felt primarily in the construction and services sectors, he said.
About the Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and nearly 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. The Port's 5-year strategic plan - Growth with Care - pairs business expansion with community benefits, envisioning more jobs and economic stimulus as the Port grows. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States.