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Plans to build a "dry port" in the Mojave Desert gets backing of Kern County Board of Supervisors

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 12 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 12 AM Edition) 02:27

The effort to build a "dry port" in the middle of the Mojave Desert now has the backing of the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

(credit: Mojave Inland Port/Pioneer Partners)

The planned Mojave Inland Port, which received a proclamation of support this week from the Kern County Board of Supervisors, is 90 miles from the San Pedro Bay, where the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have been stymied by supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, and pent-up demand that exploded during the nation's economic recovery. The project is being spearheaded by Pioneer Partners, a Texas-based private holding company, which purchased the desert tract in 1991.

The desert shipping port would be built on 400 acres next to the Mojave Air & Space Port – an airport capable of accommodating the largest commercial cargo aircraft round-the-clock --  and is served directly by rail and by two major highways – State Highways 14 and 58. Once the port is in operation, containers arriving from ships at the Ports of LA and Long Beach will be off-loaded onto shuttle trains for direct transport through the under-used Alameda Corridor to Mojave, for distribution to the rest of California and the nation.

LONG BEACH, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: A truck passes shipping containers at China Shipping at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the US, on September near Long Beach, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

"The Port of Long Beach has seen record container traffic in recent years, which shows signs of slowing down. Being surrounded by the dense urban areas of Long Beach and South Los Angeles, there is limited real estate available," Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a statement. "The Mojave Inland Port is the type of innovative solution that will alleviate congestion and allow dockworkers to do their jobs more efficiently, getting goods to businesses and consumers faster."

Once the desert port is built, its expected to have the capacity to handle approximately 3 million containers per year. The timing couldn't be better, with annual container volume expected to increase from 20 million containers now to 34 million by 2030.

"This one-of-a-kind project will help unsnarl the congestion in the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach; it will help the national economy by reducing pressure on the supply chain; it will help the local economy through job creation. Goods will get to businesses and consumers faster and more efficiently," Richard Kellogg, chair of Pioneer Partners, said in a statement. "We can't wait to get started."

The Mojave Inland Port is fully permitted, and site plans have been zoned and approved. The next step for the desert port is for Pioneer Partners to work with Kern County officials to secure building permits, with a ground-breaking scheduled for next year. The desert port -- which would be one of the rare hubs in the world to offer transportation options of rail, rubber-tire, air, and space -- is projected to become fully operational in 2024.

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