(Photo by Scott Sweeney, from WSB coverage of January 2015 truck-traffic backup on westbound bridge)
According to the port, its terminal operators say they are ready to handle it – but just in case, here’s what you might call an advance traffic alert, from a flyer sent this morning by the Port of Seattle, on behalf of its joint venture with the Port of Tacoma:
The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) expects to see changes in truck volumes at several of its container terminals in the coming months. These changes may affect local traffic.
What is expected?
The NWSA expects a reduction in truck volumes at Washington United Terminals in Tacoma. At the same time, the NWSA is expecting a significant growth in truck volumes at Terminal 18 in Seattle and a modest increase at Husky Terminal in Tacoma. These shifts in truck volumes are expected to occur later this month and peak in early- to mid-May.
Why is this happening?
Over the last several years, ocean carriers have formed alliances to better utilize their collective
assets to manage costs in light of weak market conditions. In April, the members of these alliances are set to reshuffle, creating three major alliances engaged in the trans-Pacific trade instead of the previous four.
The new alliance configurations mean changes at which terminals the different carriers and their alliances call. This will likely mean corresponding changes in truck traffic at these various terminals.
What is the NWSA doing about this?
The NWSA is working closely with terminal operators to ensure they do everything practical to manage their operations to minimize truck backups at their gates. Terminal operators assure the NWSA that they are prepared to handle these changes.
NWSA staff continue to encourage our tenants to consider a variety of options at their disposal including, but not limited to, extended gate hours, appointment systems and other operational tools.
Over the long-term, the NWSA continues to explore opportunities for gate redesigns, expanded truck staging facilities and off-dock container yards that could help. These infrastructure investments are expensive and will take time to fund and develop.
Terminal 18 is on the east side of Harbor Island, as shown on this map of Port of Seattle terminals.