The M580 “green” marine highway is dead, and it never stood a chance. It was neither operationally practical, environmentally beneficial nor economically sustainable. It was a shameful waste of taxpayer dollars that was forced upon the region by naive, close-minded and politically motivated bureaucrats within DOT and MarAd. Every industry insider knew it to be a white elephant, yet red flags were ignored by environmental do-gooders. Two legitimate barge operators, The Broe Group (in conjunction with Eco-Transport) and Savage Services, took a close look at its potential, and both flatly deemed it unworkable. Yet, the Port of Stockton, who had no experience in barge or container operations, forged ahead on its own…did they really think the project was viable? Or was it simply a money-grab? Since the feds were pushing TIGER funds so aggressively, maybe Stockton was the crafty one in this whole debacle, leaching two new mobile cranes and infrastructure improvements out of the feds.
In the middle of last month, there was talk about exploring the option of loading refrigerated containers onto the barge serving containerized traffic between the Port of Oakland and the Port of Stockton (aka, the Marine Highway, the Green Highway, M-580).
Then a week later, the Port of Stockton revealed they are bleeding money, $6M thus far, on this “demonstration” project and are looking to transfer management and financial responsibility to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
MSC has been a regular user of the service, but the verdict is still out on whether or not they are willing to take on the burden of operations and costs.