Port of Richmond Opens Upgraded Auto Terminal

The Port of Richmond and Auto Warehousing Co. have formally opened the new 100-acre automotive distribution facility at the historic Point Potrero Marine Terminal.  American Honda has begun distributing vehicles through the facility.

Members of the Richmond City Council, the Port of Richmond, Auto Warehousing and the BNSF Railway held a grand opening Sept. 14th to commemorate the new terminal and Honda’s return to Richmond.

TransDevelopment Group designed and built the $40-million project under contract with terminal operator Auto Warehousing. TransDevelopment also managed project planning, environmental permitting and development coordination with the BNSF and neighboring industrial companies.

The infrastructure improvements included an extension of rail access directly into the port facilities, road construction, truck loading facilities, paving and deep-water ship berth renovations.

Auto Warehousing contracted with TransDevelopment to design and serve as the construction manager on the port infrastructure project after it reached an agreement with Honda to use Richmond as a Northern California gateway.

Honda announced last year that it would shift a significant portion of its imported vehicle volume from the Port of San Diego to Richmond. The manufacturer trucks vehicles to Northern California dealers and ships autos to points east using the BNSF. In past years, Honda would truck its new vehicles from San Diego to Northern California dealers.

Honda signed a long-term lease with Auto Warehousing to process vehicles. Vehicle imports over the contract period are expected to generate more than $85 million of revenue for the Port of Richmond.

“Honda has shown a lot of vision and commitment to use Richmond as a key gateway for its logistics strategy,” says Bill Robbins, principal and co-owner of TransDevelopment. “Honda is taking a long-term approach.”

“Establishing these operations in Richmond will help us secure and balance our long-term logistics needs,” said Dennis Manns, assistant vice president of logistics for American Honda, in a release when Honda announced its move to Richmond. “This additional port not only ensures future rail and port capacity, but it also has a net environmental benefit, a key goal for Honda in all of its operations.”

Jim Matzorkis, executive director of the Port of Richmond, says the design of the new automotive facility allows imported vehicles to move quickly through the port – both via haulaway truck and rail.

Room for expansion

Matzorkis told the grand opening audience that the Port and AWC are working to bring a Chinese manufacturer to the new facilities. The port also will market the auto terminal to other vehicle manufacturers that import vehicles on the West Coast.

The Point Potrero terminal has plenty of capacity to bring on additional automotive business. In fact, additional capacity would enhance rail service.

As one logistics manager put it during the grand opening, “the more volume we have, the faster those trains leave.”

Todd Strever, director – consumer products business unit, BNSF Railway, notes that the design of the new auto terminal will support additional capacity. “There is plenty of capacity available for other users – and that applies to rail infrastructure as well as terminal space,” he says.

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