A refrigerated gateway to Asia for U.S. meat exports has cleared its last big hurdle here. Port of Oakland Commissioners last week OKd an $11 million rail spur to Cool Port Oakland. It’s the final piece of an ambitious plan to make this city a vital link in the food chain.
The spur would connect Union Pacific Railroad tracks with Cool Port, a 280,000-square-foot distribution center now under construction on 25 acres of Port property. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad would also have rail access.
When the project is completed, an estimated 27,000 20-foot containers of meat could ship from Oakland annually. The final destination: export markets in Asia.
“The concept is to bring vast quantities of chilled or frozen beef and pork to Oakland via the rails,” explained Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “At Cool Port, the product would be transferred in a temperature-controlled setting from rail cars to shipping containers, then whisked across the street to outbound vessels.”
International logistics specialists Lineage Logistics and local operator Dreisbach Enterprises are building Cool Port under a lease agreement with the Port. The Port has agreed to oversee construction of the 2-mile-long rail spur. The Port will share rail costs with the developers. A $5 million grant will offset part of the cost. Union Pacific will construct a portion of the spur on its property.
Oakland is already a leading U.S. gateway to Asia for agricultural products including meat. Port officials say Cool Port could significantly increase shipments of beef and pork from the Midwest. The products would be exported overseas to satisfy growing Asian demand for U.S. premium meat. Proximity to the docks means cargo could be quickly transferred from rail to ship with minimal cost.
Cool Port Oakland is expected to open in the third quarter of 2018.