Terminal 5 Improvements


Terminal 5 to Open Q1 2022, Revising Earlier Estimates

The Northwest Seaport Alliance Terminal 5 Modernization Project is a critical component to expanding our cargo-handling capabilities.  This facility will allow our region to remain globally competitive and grow our local economy.  Due to the complex nature of this large infrastructure construction combined with unforeseen circumstances, this project is now seeing schedule impacts. To ensure project quality and a robust facility with construction that will last for decades, the NWSA now expects Phase 1 of the project to be targeted for completion by the end of Q4, 2021, rather than the expected Q2 of 2021.  

The NWSA will be providing a full project update during the March Managing Members meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 at 11:30am. This project remains a top priority and alongside our tenant, SSAT, we are committed to delivering the modernized Terminal 5 facility as soon as possible. We continue to believe this project is critical to maintaining economic and industrial diversity in our region and living wage jobs that are key to building an equitable and resilient economy. 

At the February 2nd, 2021 meeting of the Managing Members, commissioners approved three items relating to T5 construction, specifically the South Reefers Repair, Clean Truck Program and Radiation Portal Monitors/U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Booth Power Infrastructure. Piling and other construction work continues on the project.

Project overview

At The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s Managing Member meeting on Feb. 5, 2019, the port commissions of Seattle and Tacoma discussed staff recommendations for significant new investments to grow international marine cargo in the Seattle Harbor, including a new tenant at Terminal 5 and more than $300 million in infrastructure improvements to the facility.

The introduction of ever-larger container vessels has triggered dramatic changes in the container shipping in the recent years. With the largest marine cargo vessels entering the trans-Pacific trade, our Terminal 5 investments are critical for Washington state exports to Asian markets, in addition to growing cargo volumes and maritime jobs in the Puget Sound region.

Terminal 5 in Seattle has long been considered a premier container cargo on the West Coast because of its naturally deep berth, wide footprint, and the availability of an on-dock rail yard, which allows containers to be directly loaded from the ship onto rail lines. The new ultra-large container ships, however, require larger, heavier cranes with a longer reach, which in turn requires strengthening the dock and upgrading utilities.

In addition to these infrastructure improvements, Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners have directed staff to bring forward environmental investments to enhance water and air quality for the community. They include updating stormwater treatment systems and installing “shore power” infrastructure, which allows a vessel to plug into electricity while at berth, substantially reducing air emissions. The plan also includes technology improvements to manage truck flow around the terminal and a railroad “quiet zone” to reduce noise impacts for the surrounding community.

Learn more about the Terminal 5 Modernization Project.

Economic impact

With a modernized T-5, the NWSA's containerized cargo is estimated to reach nearly 7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually in 2050, according to a recent economic analysis.

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.

Project history

February 2019

On Feb. 5, the Managing Members were briefed on a proposed commercial deal and detailed construction timeline to modernize the terminal. A vote to authorize staff to solicit bids for construction of the project passed on Feb. 26, and a vote on the commercial leases is scheduled for April 2. Click here  to view agendas, meeting materials and video for the meetings.

November 2018

Having secured all the necessary permits required for developing T-5, the NWSA is planning for construction in its 2019 budget.

January 2018

The City of Seattle issued the shoreline permit for Terminal 5 improvements on Jan. 23. The NWSA continues to work on design and permitting as we explore potential tenants.

April 2017

City of Seattle in early April published the Master Use Permit Analysis and Decision with Draft Conditions. 

October 2016

Port of Seattle releases the Final Environmental Impact Statement. 

May 2016

Port of Seattle releases the Draft Environmental Impact Statement available for review and comment. 

October 2015

Based on information from potential partners interested in the terminal, the NWSA and Port of Seattle determined additional environmental review is required. See news release.

August 2015

Request for Information responses from potential tenants indicate that a long-term lease commitment would require the ability to handle more than 1 million TEUs, higher volumes than previously permitted. The NWSA continues to gather information about how a new tenant might operate the terminal, which will further inform the environmental review.

May 2015

Commissioners reviewed scenarios for terminal improvements in the North and South harbors to enhance container trade through the Puget Sound gateway.

March 2015

The Port of Seattle issued a SEPA notice of determination of non-significance for dock construction and a Request for Information began the search for a new tenant. Both the RFI and SEPA notice indicated that further environmental review would be conducted if the proposed use changed significantly or volumes were expected to exceed the 650,000 TEUs in the existing EIS.

July 2014

Container operations suspended at Terminal 5 to allow for the strategic investments necessary to handle two ultra-large container ships simultaneously.

June 2014

Commissioners authorized planning and design work to modernize Terminal 5. The terminal can only handle ships with a maximum capacity of 6,000 TEUs.


The Port of Seattle completed terminal cleanup, redevelopment and enlargement to accommodate additional container services to meet demand.