[Maritime Week / Bell Street Pier]


Port of Tacoma | Port of Olympia | Port of Everett | Port of Bellingham

Port of Tacoma

The Port of Tacoma is currently working on several concepts to expand its operations. Following is a list of its major projects.

Blair Waterway and Proposed West Blair Terminal

Estimated Cost: $60-80 million when fully developed, depending on needs of the eventual customer.

Size: Fifty acres. Two berths are currently planned, although customer needs will determine the number of berths actually constructed. A dedicated, on-dock intermodal rail yard is also planned.

Months from completion: The terminal can be completed within 18 months of the date a customer makes a commitment to move to the site.

Notable milestones: The Blair Waterway has been dredged to 47 feet up and including site of the proposed West Blair Terminal. From that point to the Pierce County terminal the waterway is 44 feet deep. The bank at the site of the proposed West Blair Terminal and the bank directly east of the site have both been cut back by 88 feet. The total width of the waterway at the site of the proposed terminal is 676 feet. That width will allow post-Panamax ships to berth on both sides of the waterway and permit a third post-Panamax ship to navigate the waterway between the two berthed vessels. The land immediately east of the West Blair Terminal is being turned over to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians as part of a larger land claims settlement. Cutting back the east bank was one of the terms of the land claims settlement. A navigational study completed in 1995 shows that post-Panamax ships will have no difficulty navigating and maneuvering in the Blair Waterway.

Milwaukee Waterway fill

Cost: $25 million.

Size: 25 acres.

Months from completion: The fill of the southernmost three-quarters of the Milwaukee Waterway was completed in 1995. The new land created by the fill will eventually become part of the Sea-Land terminal. The site can be paved and provided with electricity, drainage and lighting within 10 months of an agreement from Sea-Land to lease the site.

An artist's rendering of the new $170 million State Route 509 bridge across the Thea Foss Waterway (currently under construction).

State Route 509

Cost: $170 million with funding coming from the federal government, the Port, the City of Tacoma and the State of Washington.

Miles complete: Three.

Miles to be completed: Three.

Estimated date of completion: January 1997.

A series of overpasses and bridges will link the new highway to downtown Tacoma. The new highway route provides an alternative to the current route of SR 509, which goes and follows East 11th Street directly through the heart of the Port with a drawbridge across the Blair Waterway.

Estimated date of Blair bridge removal: Earliest removal would be February 1996. Latest removal would be January, 1997. Removal of the bridge will allow larger ships to navigate the Blair Waterway and open up 300 acres of land for marine/container terminal development.

Revitalization of Port's Industrial Yard

The Port's Industrial Yard, a 182-acre site at the tip of the peninsula separating the Blair and Hylebos waterways, underwent a complete transformation in 1995. Six new tenants moved into the industrial yard and $7.6 million was invested in infrastructure and capital improvements. Tenants include Harris Rebar, Graham Steel, K&M Metals, Tyson Seafood Group, Southland Packaging, SEMCO, and Ecogas Cryogenics. The new tenants brought over 300 new jobs to the Port.

Planned rail improvements

The Port also has plans for two projects to upgrade the rail infrastructure within the harbor area. A bypass route that will allow trains from the North Intermodal Yard to more directly access the mainline railroads will be constructed in 1996. The working cost estimate for the bypass is $705,000.

A backup storage and staging yard to support the North Intermodal Yard is also planned. The storage and staging yard will be built just north of the existing Belt Line Railroad yard. The first phase of the project involves the addition of five new sections of tract at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. Phase would involve four new sections of track for $2.5 million.

Q. What does the reopening of Stampede Pass mean to the Port of Tacoma?

A. It will provide an immediate increase in capacity for intermodal cargo to cross the Cascade mountains. It's too early to know exactly how much of an increase in capacity we will experience in the near term. Ultimately, we expect that Stampede Pass will handle 50 percent or more of the intermodal trains traveling to or from Puget Sound Ports.

The Port of Tacoma's container business is built on good rail connections. The reopening of Stampede Pass can only help the Port achieve its full potential.

Port of Olympia

Newly hired Executive Director Nick Handy joined the Port's team on February 12, 1996. His management style offers vision, enthusiasm and new life to the port, and specifically to the Marine Terminal. A major emphasis will be made to promote the Port's ability to tailor customer service, implement the first phase of a five year capital development plan, and help re-establish the Port's identity as a hard working, diversified port, willing to serve the customer.

Port of Olympia has been "beefing up" its marketing program since December 1995. They hired transportation specialist's Transmarc Logistics to actively market their marine terminal service and facilities. Kari Qvigstad has joined the Port's team as marketing representative. Her background is in international trade and logistics, US Customs Broker, and business management. They are also in the process of hiring a Director of Marketing and Trade Development.

One of the key's to the Port's success has come from its partnership with Longshore Local #47. "We have the hardest working, recording holding longshore on the West Coast," said Kari Harpel of the Port. "And we enjoy our relationship and the abilities they bring to our port. They are one of our largest assets."

Port of Everett

The primary exports of the Port of Everett are logs, lumber and agricultural products (apples, pears, potatoes, onions). The port's primary imports are bulk alumina ore and aircraft parts for the Boeing Company.

Following the sale of over 100 acres of port property to the US Navy in the mid-1980s, the Port engaged in a massive capital improvement plan which included installation of a pneumatic bulk unloader, construction of a 36,000 square foot chill building, consturction of a new concrete pier, installation of a dolphin berth, purchase of a 35 ton mobile track crane and facility improvements to the piers and yards.

In November 1995, the Port of Everett unveiled a $42 million, six-year capital improvement plan. The capital program calls for the construction of a large, multi-purpose on-dock chill/cold storage facility near the existing chill facility. The new building will have chill, freeze and warehouse capabilities to handle a wider variety of cargo. This facility will generate additional jobs as well as create new market opportunities, as it will allow the Port to handle frozen cargo such as poultry, beef and other farm commodities.

The capital program also calls for the development of a major 174-acre industrial park along the Snohomish River in North Everett. "This is one of the last industrial sites available on the water," said Port Executive Director Mike Deller. The Port has already received many inquiries from companies interested in the site. The above projects are predicted to add 1,800 new jobs and inject millions of dollars into the local economy.

Other top priorities in the capital program include construction of a pressure wash facility at the North Marina and fire service upgrades in the North Marina area. Other long-term projects include laundry and shower facilities at the North Marina, replacement of the Travelift used to take boats in and out of water, and miscellaneous equipment purchases and repairs.

Already under construction is The Landing, a hotel-retail development located north of the Chamber of Commerce office on West Marine View Drive. A visitor float and public market are also planned adjacent to The Landing development.

Port of Bellingham

The Port of Bellingham says business was so good last year it will spend $43 million over the next five years on new projects and improvements to existing facilities.

In 1994, the Port reorganized its focus to concentrate on areas that generate the greatest profit margins. That seems to have paid off - income from operations grew 69 percent last year while expenses were cut by 2.83 percent and total revenue from operations rose by 10.74 percent.

The port's new goal is to have its four divisions - Aviation, Marine Terminals, Marinas and Properties - become self-supporting by the year 2005. Property taxes currently channeled into operating the divisions could then be used for economic development, environmental cleanup and waterfront access projects for the public.

The Aviation division is proposing to spend $1.5 million on taxiway and ramp construction at Bellingham International Airport, $3.5 million on additional land acquisition for noise abatement, $1 million in early compensation for wetland mitigation for industrial site development, and $1.4 million for a fixed base operator facility with fueling station for general aviation.

Improvements for the Marine Terminals division include $1 million in cargo berthing area and dock repairs, and an undetermined amount for federal channel deepening in Whatcom Waterway - a multi-million dollar project that will start in the next few years.

A lion's share of the budget is directed at the Marinas division. About $12 million will be spent on renovating Blaine Harbor Marina, including dredging and renovating the entire marina and adding 350 new recreational boat slips.

Another $7 million is earmarked for renovations at Squalicum Harbor Marina. The project will include rebuilding the outer harbor, electrical upgrades, replacement of floats in the commercial fishing vessel section, utility upgrades and new support facilies.

The Properties division will get $9.8 million for industrial warehousing/manufacturing facilities (which includes property cleanup and construction of an industrial-type building of at least 200,000 square feet), $1.4 million for complementary marine facilities/wharfs on the I & J Waterway, and an undetermined amount for environmentally compromised property development on Bellingham's central waterfront.

As part of the central waterfront project, the port is currently investigating the purchase of about 45 acres of industrial property between Whatcom Creek Waterway and port property on Hilton Avenue. About half the site was used as a sanitary landfill.

Redevelopment of the central waterfront could cost about $27 million, which would include environmental cleanup, infrastructure improvements and new marine facilities.

According to Darling, the port has a preference for marine-related industrial development at the site, but is also interested in public access to the waterfront. He said the port might be able to start buying some of the property by this fall.

Return to Maritime Week / Bell Street Pier top page

Copyright © 1996 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.