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New Terminal Opens, Along With Scores of Jobs : Harbor: The $140-million shipping center on Pier J is twice as large as the old one. Its rail yard will eliminate many truck trips on the freeway.


LONG BEACH — A flock of sea gulls lounged in the warm sun, oblivious to the trucks that moved about like giant worker ants in the new shipping terminal on Pier J in the Port of Long Beach.

Maersk Pacific Ltd. moved into the $140-million terminal on Monday. It is just a stone's throw from the old one, but at 107 acres, the new terminal is twice as large. And with two additional cranes and new railroad tracks, it will enable the shipping company to move nearly twice as much cargo, company President William A. Trok said.

The pier expansion means more than a hundred new jobs for area longshoremen, a welcome addition to a stagnant local economy.

"It's going to create quite a bit of work," said Joe Cortez, president of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union Local 13.

Trok also figures that the expansion will eliminate about 100,000 truck trips a year on the Long Beach Freeway. One of the improvements in the new terminal is a rail yard that enables cargo to be moved directly from ships onto trains. The trains then go to downtown Los Angeles, where they are routed all over the country.

Trucks will still move cargo for Southern California.

The Danish shipping firm is starting a new route that will link the Port of Long Beach with ports in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Trok said. The first ship on the new route is scheduled to arrive in Long Beach on May 8.

Despite the poor economic climate, the firm projects an increased demand in trade with Asia.

"We believe that the Pacific Rim trade will continue to grow, and we wanted to make certain we were well-placed with a new terminal in Southern California to take advantage of that trade," Trok said.

Maersk, which has operated a container terminal in Long Beach since 1975, also serves ports in Northern Europe. Import cargo includes clothes, computers and televisions.

Exports include frozen meats, California produce and cotton.

The Harbor Department built the new terminal at a cost of $140 million. It plans to recover the cost through its lease agreement with Maersk. The department leases the property for $11.8 million a year, compared to the $4.4 million it charged Maersk for the old 54-acre terminal, an official said.

The new terminal will use six giant cranes to pluck 40-foot cargo containers from the holds of ships. The old terminal had four cranes.

Maersk suffered a setback last month when one of the new cranes it bought for the terminal toppled into the harbor--a $6.4-million loss. Maersk is leasing a crane from the Port of Long Beach until a replacement can be built and put in place, probably by next February, Trok said.

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