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October 23, 2021 10:00 PM, EDT

Long Beach Relaxes Container-Stacking Rule

Containerships moored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Containerships moored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Oct. 9. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

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Officials in Long Beach, Calif., relaxed restrictions on storing shipping containers in a bid to ease a bottleneck that’s left nearly 80 vessels waiting offshore to enter the biggest U.S. gateway for ocean freight.

The city manager, in a statement late Oct. 22, said the temporary zoning rule, effective immediately and set to last for 90 days, will allow stacks of four containers high compared with a long-time limit of two. The note posted online cited a “national emergency related to the supply and distribution of imported goods arriving in our nations ports.”

The massive Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are struggling to handle record volumes of inbound cargo amid shortages of truck drivers and equipment like trailers needed to haul containers from the docks to inland warehouses, rail hubs and distribution centers.

Graphic of number of anchored ships off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach over time

At L.A.-Long Beach, the amount of time a container stays on a marine terminal between unloading from a ship and removal by a truck rose to a record in September of 5.94 days. Before the pandemic, the so-called dwell time was usually under three days, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

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