[Maritime Week / Bell Street Pier]


KPFF Engineering

As our urban waterfront areas continue to grow, successful projects, such as the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5, will blend the needs of commerce, industry and the community into an integrated solution.

The Port is currently expanding and redeveloping one of its larger industrial properties, Terminal 5, into a state-of-the-art modern container handling facility for American President Lines (APL). Like the Bell Street Pier project, Terminal 5 has been designed to utilize an under-developed and polluted industrial property to help generate benefits to the neighboring urban areas.

A rendering of Terminal 5 after construction is completed. In all, over 188 acres will be developed to allow for additional container facilities.

As a significant waterfront development, this 188-acre expansion presents several unique features including the introduction of an on-terminal rail facility, as well as extensive operational innovations and environmental mitigation measures. The project began after a request by APL to expand their 88-acre terminal area and create a load center based in the Northwest that would be large enough to meet their growing business needs and include an intermodal rail facility. To implement APL's redevelopment vision, a master plan was developed by the Port of Seattle and KPFF Consulting Engineers. The initial design posed several challenging issues, including the close proximity of the terminal to existing residential urban areas, the sizable task of environmental remediation of several industrial sites and a former landfill, the seismic assessment and design of wharf structures and the extensive rail requirements of APL.

After careful site assessment, design team members have created one of the largest, technically innovative container terminal facilities in the United States. Designed to serve APL's needs well into the next century, the unique components feature manned, computerized railroad operations, six loading tracks to accommodate 56 309-foot intermodal rail cars allowing for loading and unloading of two 28-car unit trains simultaneously, as well as the installation of a double track to allow APL and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to operate concurrently.

Located in an environmentally sensitive area near the Duwamish River and Elliott Bay, it was critical to coordinate and communicate with the numerous agencies and the community in order to meet permitting requirements and enhance the adjacent areas. As a result, the project includes several different forms of public access, including pedestrian overpass structures over rail tracks, extensive formal and natural landscaping, bike and pedestrian trails and a public viewing tower with sweeping views of the bay and the Seattle skyline.

Landscaping efforts along the Harbor Avenue Corridor will create a great visual impact to the area, providing for a more scenic facade to an otherwise industrialized area. The public shoreline is expected to reap benefits from this master plan, including new parking areas, shoreline habitat restoration, restrooms and an interpretative information area, pier and deck walkways along with access roads and pathways creating a link to Harbor Avenue. Because of the heavy activity at the terminal, noise walls are being constructed to mitigate the frequent operation of railroad tracks and a landscaped buffer was formed along the west side of the site.

The project called for the clean-up of approximately 100-acres of contaminated environment that formerly served as various industrial properties, shipyards and a municipal landfill. As a result, predictable and more cost-effective clean-up solutions have been adopted that satisfy environmental regulations. The remediation plan developed by this project has created several clean-up solutions and established guidelines for future redevelopment of urban industrial lands while providing reliable environmental protection.

As a response to the general direction of the shipping industry's consolidation of shipping lines, this terminal expansion has created a baseline for future design and the Port is being approached by other shipping lines who are looking for similar guidelines. The Harbor Island Expansion (Terminal 18), a much larger facility, will most likely build on the criteria established from Terminal 5.

Following completion of the Terminal 5 facility, APL will have the capacity to administer a more cost efficient and streamlined business to their direct clients as well as generate positive economic growth for the community. The project ultimately will act as an example for future redevelopment activity along the Seattle waterfront, particularly with respect to industrial sites. Terminal 5 presents itself as an excellent case of coexistence between industrialized areas and residential communities. The public viewing tower and overlooks constructed on the site will function as an educational opportunity for those interested in understanding the working components of a container yard while concurrently providing positive reinforcement to the community's economy.

The results of this venture may change the face of future endeavors, especially where public access is concerned. Design team members have taken great strides to ensure the vision of the project remains in accordance with the public's expectations. Seattle can expect the various developments along the waterfront to produce not only more construction growth in the area, but an increased level of economic growth for businesses in our city center. Upon completion of the project in 1998, activity for the Port is expected to increase, providing new opportunities for business through Seattle, and simultaneously adding growth to the city as a major gateway port. The Southwest Harbor Project (Terminal 5) has developed a new approach for similar redevelopments with a new community awareness, providing for a positive union between industry and urban society.

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