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Keeping Up With The Port Of Long Beach

Chris Mills, general maintenance supervisor at the Port of Long Beach, is responsible for making sure that trucks loaded with cargo are able to travel safely through the port’s streets. This entails anything from street striping, repairing road signs, cleaning storm drains, to clearing hazardous waste. “A lot of times, I’m dealing with a HAZMAT [hazardous materials] response to truck accidents due to diesel and oil spills in the street,” Mills said. The Long Beach native, who now oversees a team of six, started out as a trash truck driver for the city. When he was 18, he obtained a license for commercial truck driving and, at 20, he became a certified crane operator. This experience brought him to the port, where he worked his way up to senior equipment operator before he was transferred to his current position. “I take a great sense of pride in knowing that, when we go shopping and take something off the shelf, if it was imported, odds are that at one point or another it was on one of my streets,” he commented. According to Mills, one of the biggest challenges in the role is that “you have to be on your toes at all times.” He added, “On these streets, it can change dramatically in a second. . . . We’ve had an actual hole that opened up on the [Gerald Desmond] bridge, we’ve had a truck roll over from hitting a corner too fast and, all of a sudden, the streets are shut down.”

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