NRC Project of the Year: Port of Long Beach, Pier E

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

Herzog Contracting Corp. and Reyes Construction worked to safely build a 345-acre intermodal yard that will help the Port of Long Beach increase capacity and cut air pollution.


California’s Port of Long Beach (POLB) is the second busiest port in the United States and is located in one of the nation’s most populated areas. Capacity matters, but so does efficiency and environmental friendliness. POLB developed a plan that would give it both with the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project.

{besps_c}0|1_herzogproj.jpg|Pier E and F before|The original configuration of Pier E and F.{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|2_herzogproj.jpg|Pier E and F after|A rendering illustrates what the completed Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project will look like.{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|3_herzogproj.jpg|Combined Piers|Pier E was connected to Pier F by filling an additional 40 acres of Slip 1.{/besps_c}                                                                                                  {besps_c}0|4_herzogproj.jpg|Stacking cranes|New enviromentally-conscious electric stacking cranes were installed. {/besps_c}

The project will combine two aging shipping terminals at Pier E and F into the greenest, most technologically-advanced container terminal in the world. The new terminal, at full build out, will have more than double the capacity of the two terminals it replaces and cut air pollution by more than half.

In 2012, POLB signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease with Orient Overseas Container Line and its subsidiary, Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT), for the new Middle Harbor property, in the largest deal of its kind for any U.S. seaport. POLB and LBCT have been working to progress the nine-year, $1.31 billion project that will upgrade wharfs, water access and container yards, as well as add a greatly expanded on-dock rail yard.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2015 and included the development of Pier E, which allowed LBCT to continue operation at its existing terminal on Pier F. The entire project is scheduled for completion by 2019 and will help support thousands of jobs in the area.

The work performed on Pier E is the centerpiece of the Middle Harbor redevelopment efforts and Herzog Contracting Corp. was the managing joint venture partner with Reyes Construction for this portion of the project.

According to Herzog Contracting, “This intermodal yard spans 345 acres and will handle 10,000 truck trips per day, 2,100 trains, 3.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units per year and will employ nearly 3,000 people. The total linear footage of crane rail foundation and rail installed was 40,982 (almost eight miles). The vehicle traffic areas required the construction of a flexible paving cross-section, which consisted of up to 13-inch thick roller compacted concrete, with a three-inch asphalt wear course. The project also involved the installation of drainage structures, utilities and demolition of the prior site. The contract included the construction of reclaimed land by connecting Pier E to Pier F, which consisted of filling an area of the harbor previously used for ship navigation.”

Herzog Contracting’s ability to complete the project on time, on budget and with zero “lost time” accidents helped the company garner the 2015 NRC Project of the Year award. This is a repeat win for Herzog Contracting, which also won the 2014 award for its work on the Port of Los Angeles Berth 200 Rail Yard.

“One of the many goals of this project was to incorporate our expertise in being environmentally conscious with innovative solutions. Transforming two aging terminals into the greenest and most technologically-advanced container terminal in the world was no small task,” Herzog Contracting wrote in its Project of the Year entry. “The utilization of solar panels, adding shore power for ships and the reuse or recycle of many waste materials were just a few of the ways that we succeeded in delivering a project of the highest quality.”

Challenges and strategies

Herzog Contracting notes that the largest challenges of the project were the project’s schedule and accuracy required of the construction process.

“The challenge on this project was working over the top of an operating oil field, with an aggressive schedule, promised in the 40-year, $4.6 billion lease agreement between POLB and the Orient Overseas Container Line. Our strategy was to work with the Port and the tenant. This allowed our construction team to sequence and accelerate work so that we could meet important milestones, allowing the tenant to install and test its highly automated container handling equipment,” said Herzog Contracting.

The company continued, “The biggest challenge with accuracy was that with the performance characteristics of the automatic stacking cranes, placement of anchor bolts for the direct fixation crane rail track was highly critical. The automatic stacking cranes used at this terminal travel at very high rates of speed, up to 30 miles per hour, while handling loads of up to 45,000 pounds.

“Our strategy to ensure complete accuracy of the final product was to use high caliber total station survey equipment to aid in aligning concrete forms and anchor bolts, both vertically and horizontally, prior to pouring concrete.

“Immediately after concrete was poured, all of the bolts and forms were checked again to verify no movement. This process, with quality and hold points built in to the Construction Work Plan, provided a positive means for our crews to work in a timely, efficient manner, while maintaining the required accuracy to build the project correct the first time. This kept the project on-time and on-budget.”

Safety: Zero lost time

A large component of the NRC’s Project of the Year contest is the safety record of a project. Herzog Contracting accrued 313,046 total man hours on the project with zero “lost time” accidents.

“Herzog employed a safety director who was dedicated to the project on a full-time basis. The success of our safety record is attributed to every team member believing a culture of safety was part of everyone’s responsibility,” said Herzog Contracting.

“Each foreman was tasked with developing an Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA) for each definable feature of work. Every AHA identified the tasks required to complete the work. The AHA outlined potential hazards that might be encountered and identified steps to mitigate every hazard associated with the task. Additionally, if a near miss occurred on the project, there would be a ‘Safety Standown’ for the entire project. All crews would be notified of the near miss and crews would be retrained to ensure a similar event would not reoccur. Herzog is a hard working company that goes above and beyond to not only meet, but also exceed construction safety standards,” said the company.

Concerning cost control strategies, Herzog Contracting stuck to a simple, yet effective, formula.

“Herzog’s cost control system was fully integrated within the management team, from the foreman to the project manager. Engineers responsible for managing various disciplines of work were tasked with creating very simple man hour budget work sheets for each of the foremen. These budget sheets were designed in a way that the foreman could fill in the number of hours used to perform each task during the workday. The budget worksheet also allowed foreman to identify how many units of production the crew accomplished. This allowed the foreman to determine the number of man hours required to complete each task on a given day. The foreman could then compare the actual number to the budgeted number, allowing them to better understand their daily estimated goal. This method of cost control proved to be a valuable process for controlling costs in the field. Each month every discipline engineer would update their units of production in the cost report, as well as verify all of the inputs for accuracy, allowing for a detailed job cost report to be completed for the project manager and company executives. When these techniques indicated the likelihood of a cost overrun, the management team identified potential improvements to be made to the operation, providing increased efficiency or determining whether or not the character of the work had changed,” said Herzog.

Herzog Contracting completed its work at Pier E at the end of August 2015. Following successful testing, Pier E accepted its first vessel on April 7, 2016.

Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, Class 1, Intermodal, ON Track Maintenance, Safety/Training, Shortline/Regional, Track Machinery, Yards & Terminals