Port Congestion Hits the East Coast

Dear Valued Client,

As you know, shippers have been allotting more cargoes to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts in an effort to avoid supply chain disruptions on the West Coast and to diversify their risk ahead of the upcoming labor negotiations, scheduled to begin on May 12.

While we are seeing improvement in Southern California, the diversion has increased congestion along the Eastern Seaboard.  As of Wednesday, the number of vessels waiting to unload on the East Coast is now larger than the queues on the West Coast.


Port Wait Timeto Berth Average Container Dwell Time
Los Angeles / Long Beach

10 – 12 days

5 days

New York / New Jersey

2+ weeks

8.5 days


13 days

10 days


17 days

10 – 16 days


10 days

14+ days


13 days

10 days

The massive numbers of import and export containers piling up at the ports, along with the chassis shortages, are stressing terminal handling, trucking, and rail operations.  Truckers have reported waiting in line for 8 hours just to access the ports, and many have been turned away.  The Hours of Service rule, which limits the number of hours a driver can work, is also impeding the flow of goods.  After sitting in traffic all day waiting to enter the port, drivers are then forced by the regulation to end their workday, whether they retrieved their load or not.  Rail services, which have already buckled across much of the country, are faring even worse due to the lack of rail equipment and their reduced workforce.

In an effort to alleviate the bottlenecks, New York, Norfolk, and Charleston have planned Saturday gates to provide additional hours for drivers.  Charleston will also open gates on Sundays, but the Sunday service will not be available for reefer shipments.

Additionally, the South Carolina Ports Authority has now implemented a process to barge import containers that have dwelled longer than 30 days from WWT to HLT to free up space and improve terminal productivity.  Importers will be assessed a fee of $500 per container for the diversion.