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WA Ports Approve Terminal Renovations

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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Earlier this month, both the Seattle and Tacoma ports voted to approve a nearly half-billion-dollar deal that would go toward the renovation of Terminal 5 as well as change some of Terminal 46. The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) also approved the Terminal 5 Modernization Program.

Earlier this year, the Port of Seattle approved a minor property tax increase to help with funding the work. The NWSA was formed in 2015 to handle maritime matters. The $500 million investment includes $340 million from the two ports.

Project History

Terminal 5 was opened in 1964, and is equipped with a deep berth. The terminal is also designed to allow for containers to be moved directly onto rail cars. Recent years have seen an increase in size of cargo ships running between Asia and the U.S., which in turn results in the demand for larger cranes and expanded facilities.

In July 2014, container operations were suspended at Terminal 5 to accommodate necessary changes for the accommodation of two 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships. In March 2015, the Port of Seattle issued “a SEPA notice of determination of non-significance for dock construction and a Request for Information” in order to find a new tenant. A couple of months later, commissioners examined options for terminal improvements to facilitate container trade through the Puget Sound gateway.

In August 2015, responses from potential tenants indicated that a long-term lease would require the ability to handle more than 1 million TEUs, which is higher than previously permitted. The Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued in October 2016.

At the end of February of this year, a vote from the NWSA authorized staff to solicit bids for construction work. A vote on the commercial leases was held earlier this month. All of this amounts to a larger move to accommodate larger container vessels and their impact on shipping volumes.

“With a modernized T-5, the NWSA's containerized cargo is estimated to reach nearly 7 million [TEUs] annually in 2050, according to a recent economic analysis,” writes the NWSA.

“Without the T-5 investments, containerized cargo is expected to be 5.3 million TEUs in 2050, a difference of 1.6 million TEUs. This estimated reduction of total TEUs results in reduced economic impact, including more than 6,000 fewer jobs and $2 billion in lower direct business output.”

Terminal Improvements

According to King5 News, Matson’s Hawaii service will move from Terminal 30 to Terminal 5's southern berth in the spring. Marine cargo will also be shuffled from Terminal 46 to Terminal 18, and eventually move to Terminal 5. Seattle-based Foss Maritime is be relocated to Terminal 46.

“Terminal 5 will be able to handle the largest marine cargo vessels now being deployed in the Asia-Pacific trade route quickly and efficiently, providing a critical link for Washington state exports to Asian markets, both for agricultural products such as hay, apples and potatoes, as well containerized cargo for customers such as Paccar and Starbucks,” said Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of the NWSA.

Port of Tacoma Commissioner Vice President and NWSA Managing Member Clare Petrich noted that Tacoma will share the cost of the work.

The work on Terminal 5 is slate to result in 6,600 new direct jobs, as well as more than $2 billion in business activity. The first phase of construction is slated for completion by 2021, resulting in the terminal being able to handle 1.3 million shipping containers a year.

The 32-year lease is to go to Stevedoring Services of America Terminals and Total Investment Limited, which will see the installation of four to eight large cranes. The size of the property is slated to expand from 65 acres initially to 159 acres over the coming years.


Tagged categories: Funding; Infrastructure; Marine; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management

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