LONG BEACH - A massive expansion that will create thousands of jobs and could make the Port of Long Beach the nation's busiest seaport will be up for budget approval next week.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners on Jan. 7 is expected to approve the $1.2 billion budget for the port's Middle Harbor project, which seeks to connect and renovate old shipping terminals.

"This is the beginning of our transformation into what will be the port of the future," Port of Long Beach Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle has said.

If approved, the money will cover environmental and engineering costs, demolition, utility relocation and upgrades that will mean greater water access and more storage areas.

Improvements also include an expanded on-dock railyard that will grow from 10,000 to 75,000 linear feet, which will mean fewer local truck trips and less air pollution. The project will also include new technology, such as a computer-controlled transport and stacking system that officials say will maximize productivity.

Set for completion in 2019, the Middle Harbor project will be home to Orient Overseas Container Line, the Hong Kong-based container shipping and logistics service company that signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion deal to take up most of the 342-acre space.

That will triple the size of the company's footprint, making it the biggest agreement of its kind in the history of container terminals in the nation, port officials said.


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OOCL, which intends to move into the new space in 2016, has been a port customer since 1969 and was one of the first shipping lines in the transpacific container business to call the Long Beach port home.

The deal is expected to double cargo movement, create at least 14,000 permanent jobs, lower port-related pollution and potentially make the port the nation's busiest seaport.

The meeting will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Port Administration Building, 925 Harbor Plaza.

karen.robes@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2088, twitter.com/KarenMeeksPT