BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Inland Port Authority brainstorms solutions to supply chain problems

Jan 24, 2022, 7:42 PM | Updated: Jan 25, 2022, 11:44 am
(Members of the Utah Inland Port Authority at a roundtable discussion about the country's supply ch...
(Members of the Utah Inland Port Authority at a roundtable discussion about the country's supply chain problems. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(Members of the Utah Inland Port Authority at a roundtable discussion about the country's supply chain problems. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the country’s supply chain continues to have problems, members of the Utah Inland Port Authority brainstormed possible solutions.  They say the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed how international shipping companies do business, and American companies need to make serious adjustments if things are to improve.

Supply chain problems

When the pandemic hit, trade industry insiders say international couriers wanted to keep their assets close to the coasts. They were shying away from bringing them inland.  Valor Victoria CEO Ashley Ritteman says that forced trucking companies in states like California to be responsible for shipping the vast majority of the products that are left at ports.

“That infrastructure was not prepared for all the freight to, all of the sudden, be routing through that one pipeline,” she said.

To this day, only 10% of all items at the port are transported out of California by railroad. And that is causing major slowdowns.  Andrew Hwang with the Port of Oakland says this is also causing a shortage of parking spots at truck stops in California.  He says truckers are having a hard time recharging their auxiliary systems and getting their rigs ready for long trips. 

(A map of possible UIPA routes. Which Utah Inland Port Authority believes could ease logjams at ports and speed up shipping across the country. Photo: Paul Nelson)

Hwang said, “If you can’t build other infrastructure to support the growth in trucks, then you are going to have to build other conduits for that cargo to move.”

Salt Lake City will help port cities

Officials say the port being built in Salt Lake City will go a long way to ease the burdens at port cities.  Port of Long Beach Deputy Executive Director Dr. Noel Hacegaba says the most important thing port workers need, at the moment, is more space.

“Here in Utah, we have 265 million in square feet of warehouse and industrial space.  I saw it as I was landing,” Hacegaba said.  “You know what, you have room to grow.”

However, UIPA members acknowledge pollution is the main concern their opponents have.  Officials say bringing goods by train instead of truck could eliminate a large portion of pollution churned into our skies. However, they still need to find the most environmentally-friendly methods of transporting things into the state.  World Trade Center Utah President Miles Hansen says companies across the West need to come together to find these solutions.

 “There has to be a whole system and partners and players across the system all working together,” he said.

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Inland Port Authority brainstorms solutions to supply chain problems