11:57 AM: Just wrapped up at the still-underway Seattle Council morning-briefing meeting, a Q/A with John Wolfe, CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint enterprise of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma). The planned modernization of Terminal 5 in West Seattle came up several times. First, after Wolfe talked about the shipping industry currently being in a “crisis mode,” he was asked why the port/NWSA is proceeding with a nine-digit investment in T-5 when its prospective customers are in so much trouble. He replied that the shipping industry is cyclical and they’re expecting it to recover. He also mentioned the current predominance of alliances, and how what are currently four industry alliances are morphing to three. Questions included when the T-5 project is expected to be done – “mid-2020.” What about shore power? “The good news is that the industry is wanting to do the right thing – cleaner fuels and the ability to plug into shore power,” Wolfe replied. He added that they believe allowing shippers to voluntarily pursue such initiatives is better than “requirements.” Monitoring environmental factors is crucial, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold interjected at that point.
Eventually, Wolfe said, they expect container traffic to be split 50-50 between Seattle and Tacoma. And in discussing competition with British Columbia ports, he talked about the federal Harbor Maintenance Tax adding $125 to each container’s cost for shippers here, and how the absence of that is an advantage for north-of-the-border shippers.
1:17 PM: Just added the meeting video from Seattle Channel, above this line. The NWSA briefing starts at 1 hour, 38 minutes into the meeting.