An open letter to our customers and stakeholders
One year ago, we took a first-of-its-kind leap. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma joined together to launch The Northwest Seaport Alliance.
As we mark our first anniversary of operations, we’re proud to say the partnership is working.
Faced with intense competition within the shipping industry and slipping market share in the trans-Pacific trade, the ports knew they had to cut a bold new path.
With 40 percent of our state’s family-wage jobs connected to international trade and our mission to create more, we knew the stakes were high.
The alliance now manages the marine cargo facilities and business in both the Seattle and Tacoma harbors. Cargo volumes are recovering and the alliance is investing in infrastructure to continue growing.
Here’s a brief look at what we’ve accomplished so far.
The future of container shipping arrived in February with CMA CGM’s 18,000-TEU ship, the Benjamin Franklin. Our successful handling of this mega-ship at Terminal 18 in the North Harbor confirmed our facilities’ world-class capabilities.
But we’re just getting started.
Construction is in full swing on the General Central Peninsula in the South Harbor. Commissioners approved $141 million in improvements that include a strengthened, realigned dock and four new cranes to handle two mega-ships at the same time.
Design is 90 percent complete the modernization of Terminal 5 in the North Harbor, and work has begun on the final Environmental Impact Statement. The planned improvements will accommodate heavier cranes with a longer outreach and provide deeper drafts to simultaneously handle two 18,000-TEU vessels.
With the launch of the alliance Operations Service Center, we are laser-focused on achieving metrics around efficiency and reliability. With input from the Executive Advisory Council, made up of industry stakeholders that include marine terminal operators, railroads, trucking, shipping lines, retailers and labor, we are making progress toward rail, ship, trucking and crane performance across our gateway. And with smooth cargo flows, we simultaneously advance our environmental and safety goals, such as reduced idling emissions and fuel consumption.
We also have worked with community and government stakeholders to keep cargo moving outside our terminal gates. The City of Seattle approved a heavy haul corridor to accommodate overweight trucks. The City of Tacoma partnered with us and others to rebuild Port of Tacoma Road to heavy haul standards. And the state Department of Commerce provided grant funding to build the North Lead Rail project, which is beginning construction this summer and adds vital rail capacity in the South Harbor.
The structure of the alliance—and our focus on the entire Puget Sound region—has paid strategic dividends for our community and customers.
When Hapag Lloyd, Hamburg Süd and U.S. Lines needed greater access to electrical outlets and a more robust truck gate system for refrigerated export cargo, the NWSA was able to support the customer’s desire to relocate to the North Harbor. The solution met the customers’ needs and allowed the alliance to seamlessly keep the business.
Before the alliance was created, each port likely would have competed to retain—or gain—the customers. That process might have led to prolonged negotiations and driven down local rates. Instead, the NWSA was able to focus on finding a solution that helped our customers and kept the business and jobs in Puget Sound.
The alliance’s integrated commercial and infrastructure strategies provide smarter use of limited resources and better protect the public’s investment from pressures of tough global markets. The alliance is committed to responsible, sustainable growth that protects and enhances the air and water resources we all share.
Thank you for your support and encouragement of this new regional partnership that’s hard at work to deliver for you on our mission.
We remain committed to creating the jobs and economic opportunities so valuable to this region and Washington state.
We appreciate your continued partnership as we mark this special milestone.
About The Northwest Seaport Alliance
The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Combined, the ports are the fourth-largest container gateway in North America. Regional marine cargo facilities also are a major center for bulk, breakbulk, project/heavy-lift cargoes, automobiles and trucks.