Harbour Link Blog Archive

Solutions For Mitigating Growing Traffic Congestion

Posted 2011-09-17 by Harbour Link in opinion

Port of Vancouver’s present annual container volume of 2.5 million TEU is forecast to double by 2020 to 5 million TEU per annum. Most of this growth will occur at Roberts Bank where Deltaport is located. In this context, Roberts Bank is presently being planned by PMV to accommodate a second terminal (T2) to raise the container traffic volume at Roberts’s Bank to between 4 & 5 million TEU per annum. The current annual container volume handled by Deltaport is about 1.5 million TEU.

The scale of the above expected increase in volume will have a huge impact on all transportation corridors that link Roberts Bank with the local, regional and National markets of Canada.

In the case of the rail component, the general arrangement plan for T2 will incorporate the rail requirements for this facility, whereas the rail linkage with Roberts Bank is already being improved to accommodate the future volumes to be handled by the two container terminals.

However, in the case of truck traffic, while the new South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) will contribute greatly to resolve the traffic flow issues of moving containerized goods between Roberts Bank to areas located on the South side of the Fraser River, i.e. Delta, Surrey and Langley, etc. it will not provide the solution for the movement of containerized goods to points located on the North side of the Fraser River, i.e. Richmond, Burnaby, Vancouver, North Vancouver, etc.

Presently, the lion’s share of the container traffic that is moved by truck within the Greater Vancouver area is being conducted during the day shift. Finding a solution to move a substantial portion of this traffic away from the dayshift to nights and weekends will be a necessary step to mitigate increasing traffic congestion problems.

In fact, truck traffic congestion already exists today and serves as a powerful indicator of the need to develop a strategy to accommodate growth in truck traffic as the port’s container volume at Roberts Bank increases.

In a nutshell, If we think there is a problem today “which we do”, the road congestion problem will infinitely worsen if plans are not enacted to accommodate future container growth, especially following the inception of T2 (2.4 million TEU) at Roberts Bank.

In addition to port growth at Roberts Bank, one must also consider the impact the TFN Industrial Port Trade Zone development will have on traffic flows. This development is expected to come on stream in the very near future and will generate significant truck traffic within the Robert Banks corridor associated with performing containerized cargo consolidation and distribution activities.

Being a pro-active Company that plans ahead and applies innovation thinking to bring excellence to everything we do, we believe the initiative of moving a substantial portion of truck traffic away from the dayshift to nights and weekends will not “by itself” fully resolve the traffic congestion issues that will evolve in step with the build-up of container traffic at Roberts Bank. An added option to help relieve road traffic congestion is to establish waterside off-dock container transfer facilities (nodes) that enable containers to be relayed by barge to/from the port’s container terminals. The use of strategically positioned nodes will divert some truck traffic away from the port corridor to enable importers and exporters to move containerized cargo by truck to/from these nodes and then by barge to/from the port’s container terminals using the water corridor provided by the Fraser River.

Similarly, we believe there will be a growing demand to transfer containerized cargo between Vancouver Island and the Vancouver Gateway at a container node positioned at a central point like the Port of Nanaimo for the interchange of containers to/from the Vancouver Gateway by barge or short sea services. A similar node may also be established at the Port of Squamish to facilitate the transfer of containerized export traffic originating from the Northern region of BC via CN Rail.

Adjusting to change is always challenging, yet the evolving growth of Vancouver’s container trade will require the container sector to adjust their transport methodology and business protocols to facilitate the growth of the Port’s container business.

The changes that stem from container growth may also include the need for the Vancouver Gateway to adopt fees for the transit of containers by truck during peak traffic periods (daytime), similar to the initiative already enacted by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It may also become necessary for the industry to adjust their operations to provide for a two stage delivery / pick-up process to accomplish the relay of containers between the port’s container terminals and outlying containers nodes that serve the distribution consolidation hubs located within the Lower Mainland.

As a Company that believes in planning for the future, we are actively pursuing the development of a node facility on the south side of the Fraser River. Such a facility will enable us to adjust our services in step with future container growth to include the transit of containers by barge to/from the port’s container terminals.

In the meantime, as the operators of our own container terminal we have already incorporated night services to achieve the relay of containers between the port’s container terminals and our off-dock container terminal and onward to our customers on a 24/7 basis.

This service entails picking up import containers at the container terminals during the limited hours that truck gates are open and following their release by the shipping line, and repositioning them to our sufferance bonded Off-Dock Container Terminal located in Delta. The containers are then staged at our terminal for subsequent redelivery to the customer’s door following clearance by Customs and the CFIA. All container deliveries are sequenced to coincide with the delivery timetable requirements of each customer on a 24/7 basis. Harbour Link's terminal is fully paved, fenced and has high powered lighting. It is also fully secured using both a CCTV security system and professionally qualified on site security guards.

We believe the combining of our drayage and off dock container terminal services enables us to optimize the integrated flow of our customers' cargoes in a manner to provide the solution for customers that operate 24/7 unterrupted supply chains.

If you would like more information about our transportation perspectives, please contact us. More so, if you would like to find out more about our capabilities and the services we offer we will be most pleased to hear from you.