The San Joaquin Board of Supervisors will send two members to Long Beach this fall to explore the county’s potential participation in the TradePort California Project designed to move more cargo through the valley while easing traffic, lessening pollution and creating over 100,000 new jobs over 20 years.
TradePort would create four inland truck-and-rail hubs and up to seven satellite centers along the 425-mile corridor from Los Angeles-area seaports to Northern California mainly along the Highway 99 corridor.
District 4 Supervisor Steve Ding predicted at the September 12 supervisors meeting TradePort would be a “cash cow” for the county.
However, County Administrator Jay Wilverding recommended against involvement in a joint powers authority (JPA) needed to govern and manage a TradePort center. Wilverding said Sharpe Army Depot, recommended for the local TradePort center due to its proximity to rail lines, was not viable due to environmental hazards at the Lathrop site.
In September 2022, the US Army outlined a Sharpe cleanup program. Parts of the plan include testing and managing groundwater pollution resulting from late 1980s projects. The army is targeting many hazards, including PFAS and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
“It’s true (selecting Sharpe as the inland port location) got stuck because of mainly this PFAS, which is in the water. There’s ground pollution, which is very easy, it’s expensive, but it can be fixed,” Port of Stockton Commissioner and Vice Chair William Trezza told the board.
He also said one of Rep. John Garamendi’s goals while serving on a Congressional military committee is to get the cost of cleaning Sharpe’s health risks absorbed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so the project can move forward.
The TradePort project was initially brought to the board in April and a property recommendation for development was expected this month, according to Wilverding’s analysis. The deadline was not met so the project was consequently denied $50 million in federal and state JPA grant funding.
Fresno Council of Governments (CoG) is leading the charge to build the project across the Central Valley, Wilverding told the board.
Wilverding also concluded the TradePort project lacks JPA stakeholders. Although he did tell the board it’s not impossible, as Merced County has been able to show an example of a successful location approval.
District 3 Supervisor Tom Patti confirmed Wilverding’s research and findings are current as of August, when the county administrator last spoke with Tony Boren, executive director of Fresno CoG.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Patti said, adding he doesn’t see any justification to accept Wilverding’s report and decline involvement in the TradePort. “Why would we close the door on that?”
The Port of Stockton, San Joaquin Council of Governments and San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District are among more than 20 TradePort partners.
The equivalent of more than 1.1 million container boxes annually move through the San Joaquin Valley to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Reps. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and David Valadao, R-Hanford, wrote last spring in Fresno Bee op-ed to show bipartisan support for the TradePort. About half the cargo is inbound, mostly consumer goods; the other half is mostly outbound cargo containing agricultural products. Moving the cargo containers to and from inland ports would relieve backups at the seaports, easing supply-chain issues and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they said.
Find out more about the proposed TradePort California Project at https://www.tradeportcal.com/project-plan.