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STOCKTON – The first barge trip for the Marine Highway got underway over the weekend.
The first shipment with 32 containers on board left the dock on schedule at 7 p.m. Sunday. (Watch our video on YouTube)
Port officials are optimistic about the barge service’s prospects.
“It’s projected to break even, but if we get everything set up, I think it could be even better,” Port Commissioner Michael Duffy said. “It’s a real green process, keeping trucks off the road. And again it’s something we can do well because of where we’re situated geographically.”
In 2010 the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $30 million TIGER grant for the Ports of Stockton, Oakland and West Sacramento to develop the infrastructure to establish container-on-barge service between the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal was to reduce the estimated 1,600 trucks that travel I-580 every day and the resulting pollution the traffic generates.
The barge service has faced delays since the M-580 project began in February 2010. Service was supposed to start in 2012, but was snagged several times when weather delayed the delivery of the barges in the spring 2012 and again last October when a labor dispute between longshoremen and the stevedore company Ports America halted the launch of the project.