Port seeks to sell cranes at West Seattle’s closed, empty Terminal 5

(Terminal 5, photographed today from SE Admiral area)
Three weeks after the last cargo ship called at now-closed Port of Seattle Terminal 5 in West Seattle, the resulting stretch of empty space continues to catch attention, and we’re still getting questions about why it’s empty. In short, if you missed previous stories: The port closed it and plans to “modernize” it to handle the huge new ships that are coming on line in the cargo industry, though it has not finalized plans for how to fund the full nine-digit price tag that project will cost.

Today, a new development – the Port Commission will be asked for approval next Tuesday to sell Terminal 5’s six cranes, which it says would have to be replaced anyway. The item on the agenda for next week’s commission meeting includes a memo that also surfaces a timeline for the modernization project, saying, “The objective of this effort is to design and build a facility capable of handling two EEE class vessels by mid-2018.” The cranes that Port management wants to sell were purchased in the 1980s, and appraised as worth up to $3.75 million, according to the memo, which adds, “With the direction to modernize Terminal 5, and as there are no other open Port terminals where the cranes could be utilized, it is desirable to sell the cranes while they are fully functional and have current certifications.” It also warns that the market for used cranes is “slow” and that if they don’t sell within six months, staff will come back to the commission to “obtain authorization to dispose of them in accordance with Port procedures, including paying to have the cranes dismantled and scrapped.”

The commission’s Tuesday meeting is at noon at Port headquarters (2711 Alaskan Way) and includes one other item related in part to modernization – authorization of $1.5 million to cover half the cost of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study on possibly deepening its west and east waterways to accommodate larger ships.

33 Replies to "Port seeks to sell cranes at West Seattle's closed, empty Terminal 5"

  • Michelle August 15, 2014 (3:24 pm)

    I will miss seeing the “dinosaurs”…

  • Ray August 15, 2014 (4:07 pm)

    Interesting. They seem so set on rushing forward and closing this down.

    My guess is they have some other use already targeted for this land that they have not announced yet.

  • quiz August 15, 2014 (4:55 pm)

    …Wondering if one of these’ll fit in my back yard.

  • dsa August 15, 2014 (5:04 pm)

    I think I voted wrong.

  • Les August 15, 2014 (5:43 pm)

    What a great place for a huge park and ride lot.They could have direct bus service to downtown and relocate the water taxi there too.

  • Danno August 15, 2014 (5:52 pm)

    Seems like that could be said by the majority most recent local voters. Voters’ remorse. Vote better next time.

  • Roller blader August 15, 2014 (5:54 pm)

    Open the terminal to roller bladers and skate boarders.

    • WSB August 15, 2014 (5:59 pm)

      Commenters were having a discussion on another thread about opening it to *somebody* – maybe park ‘n’ ride, or – at least for the interim. Four years is a long time for that much emptiness …

  • Ray August 15, 2014 (6:00 pm)

    Doubtful this land could ever be used for anything non-Port related.

    As it is, it is too close to other parts of the port, especially Vigor shipyards. A whole lot of security (port and homeland) related issues with this property.

    Plus I am sure there would cleanup/contamination related issues that would make it expensive.

  • onion August 15, 2014 (6:35 pm)

    I’ve lived in West Seattle just long enough to remember when that area was redeveloped from being a superfund site to productive status, including access ramps for truck traffic. I wonder how those investments over the past 20 years pencil out. Has the investment been a positive return?
    It seems to me that those assets should have been productive for more years before the next grand Billion Dollar redevelopment plan needed to be developed. When (or if) they come up with that next great development plan, how will that pencil out?
    Whether it pencils out or not in the long run, the current Port management will be long gone into retirement. As a taxpayer who probably won’t be living here in 20-30 years I hope we leave the next generation with a productive legacy rather than an albatross.

  • Mnoperiod August 15, 2014 (6:45 pm)

    Park and Ride? Where are you getting the money to run a bus from there to anywhere?

    And no, rerouting a bus to serve it isn’t an option. People don’t want to save a minute for RR C, don’t see how you’d want to spend an extra 5-10 to have to go through that intersection twice. People keep demanding efficiency from Metro. This would be the exact opposite of that.

    Unless you guys are suggesting that people park on the terminal and then walk to the bus stops that currently exist under the bridge. Then I think you overestimate how far people will walk, especially when they are already so close to Downtown.

    Now, rerouting the Water Taxi there and making it parking only for that is a much more reasonable suggestion.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (8:06 am)

    Monop, you’re right, money to do anything has to come from somewhere. But if you have a functional plan, voters do occasionally pass them.

    It’s interesting to note that the port is slowly but surely moving its footprint/operations and most importantly impacts, AWAY from downtown – where stadiums and commercial interests are gaining sway- and putting them west on WS.

    They expect little to no opposition to this. And maybe they’re right?

    BUT, I would like to see them offer land at both the north and south ends of this space for water taxi and BRT stations with park and rides for both. It would be as an offset to the impacts to WS.

    You might need to elevate some of the BRT area to allow port train movement, but it would be doable.

    Let’s face it, waiting 20+yrs for a ST Light Rail Station at a minimum cost of a few Billion $ doesn’t help WS in our lifetimes. Taking some of that $ and creating a shuttle service to a multi-modal hub on Terminal 5 would do something good, far cheaper and sooner than waiting for Godot…l mean light rail.

  • Les August 16, 2014 (8:15 am)


    Many people ride the bus to avoid paying for parking downtown. I currently drive to the Alaska Junction to ride the RR C and parking can be a real problem.How many of you have received a parking ticket by using the current street parking available to ride the bus?

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (8:19 am)

    Notice how Magnolia and interbay have been spared the nasty industrial impacts of the port operations over the last few decades?

    WS doesn’t have to accept the Port’s dirty laundry without offsets.

    The Port will be coming to the people sometime soon with a big ask. It will be for only tax $ from every other Seattle neighborhood. For WS, it comes with traffic issues and air quality and noise and opportunity costs as well.

    Those things matter to quality of life. And they should require offsets to us.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (8:35 am)

    Ray, I get there are issues of security and access to be mitigated but this is 120+ acre site. This isn’t without solution options.

  • wetone August 16, 2014 (9:22 am)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn it into a big waterfront development. Boardwalk condos/apartments, business centers, maybe a new convention center as Portland is doing along the riverfront. There’s a lot of big developers that would love the property $$$$$. Port has no worry about funding as the Seattle government will just raise our taxes as needed to support what ever they do.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (10:31 am)

    As to what people will or won’t do, there’s a considerable amount of real world data that shows that commuters prize reliability and consistency of travel time over POTENTIALLY speedy trips.

    Which is to say, give them a reliable 30 min. Door to door trip everytime over a 20 min. one some days and a 50 min. one every week or so.

    That’s why rail and TRUE BRT are worthwhile investments in dense areas.

    And Metro marketing aside, Rapid Ride is NOT BRT, we only have a few precious miles of truly dedicated point-to-point bus lanes in the city.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (10:38 am)

    Wetone, the city doesn’t have another few hundred million floating around to give to the Port to do the container development they’re planning on so that will be a ballot measure, just like the airport expansion.

    If it fails, then the backup may very well be to flip chunks of land to developers. If that’s the case, we have another potential opportunity to force some transpo-based infrastructure via zoning/Public Transpo District or other agreement. This stuff happens all the time…but only when people demand it.

  • Dis August 16, 2014 (12:00 pm)

    someone said: WS doesn’t have to accept the Port’s dirty laundry without offsets.
    That “dirty laundry” is how you get your car, your clothes, your furniture, and most of the things you use on a daily basis. That “dirty laundry” is what supports many living-wage families in Seattle. That “dirty laundry” has been a fixture and a proud tradition in West Seattle since before most of you, and your parents, were born.

  • Wake flood August 16, 2014 (12:36 pm)

    That dirty laundry was me. And your thoughts are accepted at face value so let me use the more clinical term to reduce their inflammatory nature – externalities.

    Diesel smoke is a heavy carcinogen.
    Trucks, railroad engines, cargo ships all belch it at prodigious rates.

    Traffic impacts are substantial and well documented, causing every car and bus to idle belching C02 at prodigious rates.

    Noise and light pollution, water quality Etc, etc. There are others.

    I am not suggesting the port go away. I’m suggesting that like every other trade off we need to make in deciding what powers our 21st century economy here in this region, that we take into account these externalities in a far more serious fashion than we did 50 yrs ago and look to mitigate them as best we can.

    Dirty laundry is a pejorative phrase to be sure. Inaccurate?

  • Wake flood August 16, 2014 (12:44 pm)

    Accepting higher rates of cancer here in WS so we can keep some well-paying jobs nearby might very well be a reasonable trade off. But these decision points come along just a few times every hundred years. We’re at one now. Making the decision with as much data and thoughtfulness as we can will at least give us some comfort knowing we did what we could.

  • Dis August 16, 2014 (2:43 pm)

    I don’t accept that operations at POS cause a higher rate of cancer than is seen in the general population, without citations. Causation is the key. Possibly in Long Beach, but Seattle is doubtful. Disruptions would be significant for traffic, safety, and possibly health, were that land developed for park and ride, shopping mall, hotel, etc.

  • Dale August 16, 2014 (2:55 pm)

    Beginning January 1st of 2015 new diesel fuel regulations for marine ships will be set at 1,000 PPM for Sulfur. Less then 4 years ago the average container ship emissions averaged about 27,000 PPM-or about 1,800 times the average of road transport usage. The EPA estimated that 31,000 premature deaths per year would be prevented by 2030 by the regulations which came into effect on 8/1/2012. Approx 5 million barrels per day of clean inexpensive marine fuel is required. The US leads this initiative and Europe and other countries will of course catch up. I’m not sure if there are that many EEE ships in existence today in order to justify this big investment. Maersk has ordered 20. I’m sure the Port Officials could shed more light on the multiplier effect of economic activity related to this…I just haven’t seen it yet. Is it on a website?

  • Neighbor August 16, 2014 (2:56 pm)

    As someone who lives above this terminal it has been life changing having it go quite. Our neighborhood feels livable for the first time in a very long time. Every year has brought more dust and more noise, so much that at times you can’t think straight. It used to be that you could sit outside and enjoy the surroundings, the last couple of years it was so bad that even in glorious weather you stopped wanting to be in your yard. No one is begrudging the port it’s business but we as neighbors are really suffering because of the way the port is running. I live in dread of the new cranes which will surely bring more pollutants, more noise and more sleepless nights. There has to be a better way the port exists with West Seattle.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (3:22 pm)

    Well, Dis, you might interpret this report differently than me but looking at the graph indicating cancer risk in the Duammish Industrial area caused by diesel particulates is fairly straightforward. You live nearby, you have higher risk.

    But regardless, I suggest that whatever happens to that land, there’s room to use some of it to address WS long standing conundrum regarding transpo. And since the Port controls it, I would suggest that it’s in everyone’s best interest to make something work. Either we’re in this together or we’re not.

  • Wakeflood August 16, 2014 (3:33 pm)

    Dale, how do these new regulations get enforced? Does a current dirty burner not get to unload at any US port or ??

  • Dale August 16, 2014 (4:43 pm)

    Not only can’t they unload but they can’t come within 200 nautical miles of our shoreline. So, two things can happen. They buy more expensive/cleaner diesel or they retrofit their emissions systems with scrubbers etc so that the emissions meet the tighter regulations. The easiest thing to do will be to buy the cleaner diesel but at what cost? There are refining methods to reduce sulfur content but no real incentive to do so since the demand for cheaper bunker fuel was present. Take away the demand for the fuel and it won’t be produced.

  • j August 16, 2014 (9:23 pm)

    Direct quote from city council member. “The marine industry saved us during the economic downturn.” The cargo that moves to and from terminal 5 creates many jobs in the city and state. Last I heard it costs $55,000 per day for a ship to be moored at the Port of Seattle. Some days there are three ships moored at T5 alone.
    In addition there is a surcharge on every single container.
    How much will a park n ride earn the city?
    Let’s not be so hasty to drive this industry away. It is a valuable resource.
    You can park cars and build condos anywhere.

  • Ray G. August 17, 2014 (9:06 am)

    The terminal closed down to get ready for the bigger ships that will soon be comiing. They have to restructure the docks so they can handle the bigger cranes as the ones they have at Terminal 18

  • Wakeflood August 17, 2014 (9:18 am)

    I don’t know about anyone else but I am asking for some reasonable quid pro quo from the port as a show of understanding and shared prosperity with the community they inhabit. Consideration of our serious transportation and quality of life issues shouldn’t scare them. They should welcome it. No better way to forge strong support amongst the residents and voters…

  • Robert August 18, 2014 (7:22 am)

    A little memo to the city fathers,, DON’T BUY ANYTHING BUT AMERICAN BUILT CRANES.we need the work not china……

  • patt August 19, 2014 (12:51 pm)

    These are the cranes my dad built:)

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