By Matt Tomsic
Published March 13, 2013
The Port of Los Angeles is fighting to keep cargo from bypassing their coast after the Panama Canal expands, said the port’s executive director Tuesday.
“There’s nothing that unites a community better than a common enemy,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director for the port, before half-joking: “I’m using you and Savannah as the common enemy.”
Knatz and others have orchestrated a Beat the Canal campaign to educate the community about the expansion’s impacts. It’s expected to finish during 2015, and ports executives have said it could open the East Coast to larger ships and cause some ships to bypass West Coast ports.
Along the East Coast, ports are deepening their harbors partly in anticipation of the expansion. In Savannah, the Georgia Ports Authority is deepening its harbor to 48 feet. Here, the ports authority and Army Corps of Engineers are studying the impacts of deepening the harbor. Ports officials have said the harbor needs to be deepened to 50 feet to accommodate larger, post-Panamax ships 24 hours a day. A handful of post-Panamax vessels already call on the Port of Charleston, but they have to wait for high tide to dock.
Knatz also said she’s concerned with Canada and Mexico’s port improvements as well.
“The competitive landscape is changing for all of us,” she said. “I worry more about Canada and Mexico than I do about the canal.”