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Railroad ‘quiet zone’ for West Seattle, even without Terminal 5 modernization?

(Slide deck shown for T-5 update at this week’s meeting)

No tenant yet for Terminal 5 in West Seattle – but port commissioners took steps this week to get closer to readiness for the modernization project they’ll launch if and when one is signed.

As previewed here Monday night, the steps were taken at Tuesday’s meeting of Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners as managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

One intriguing question was debated toward meeting’s end – Could, and should, the port pursue a “railroad quiet zone” even before, or without, signing a tenant? Specifically, commissioner Fred Felleman wondered whether it would be the right thing to do for the community.

Currently, the “quiet zone” is a condition that will have to be met for the modernized T-5, but train horns long have been a vexing issue for nearby residents, particularly on Pigeon Point. (Here’s one story we published in 2008, which also includes a summary of what a “quiet zone” entails.)

Before voting on what port staff called an “important milestone” in getting ready for T-5 modernization, three years after the terminal was closed, they got a briefing on where things stand.

(2015 photo of T-5 by Long Bach Nguyen)

They were told that an area resident’s appeal of the “shoreline substantial development” permit was settled a week and a half ago. The appeal, staff said, was mostly focused on concerns about construction noise, especially pile driving. The settlement includes a promise not to pile-drive on Sundays and federal holidays.

The building permit could be “essentially ready to go” in as little as a month and a half, as the result of other agreements approved by commissioners, with other parties including two tribes. If the tribes have no further issues, the Army Corps of Engineers could issue a permit within about a month.

Commissioners wondered whether the permits might be getting issued too soon, considering there’s no tenant, and asked how long they would be good for. Reply: Seven years in all – they would have three years to start the construction, then three years to complete it with up to a year’s extension.

As for the “quiet zone,” that process is starting early, port staff said, because “to be blunt, we have to deal with Burlington Northern, and they are very safety conscious.” While the port is agreeing to cover the $5 million cost, it was explained that the permits would be sought by SDOT, while the railroad “helps design and will actually implement it.”

So, the question then came up, would the “quiet zone” be built if there’s no T-5 tenant?

No, was the reply, “because it’s a condition” of the T-5 project. “We’re not building anything without a tenant.” But – it was clarified at that point – it COULD be built without a tenant. And that’s when Felleman suggested considering whether there might be “community benefit” no matter what.

After the commissioners voted to approve everything brought before them regarding T-5 – see the agenda items, with documents linked, here – they got budget updates, including a mention that interim uses of T-5, including military ships that have spent time there in the past few months (the Military Sealift Command ship Sgt. Matej Kocak and the recently seen Missile Defense Agency radar ship SS Pacific Tracker), have brought in about $1 million. The decommissioning of cranes at T-5, meantime, has been delayed. Next year’s budget timetable was mentioned – a public hearing on the Seattle-specific budget is planned November 14th, wth adoption November 28th.

(We monitored this meeting, held at Sea-Tac Airport, via its livestream on Tuesday. The archived video is not yet available online.)

SIDE NOTE: T-5 will undoubtedly be a topic when the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce gets its annual “State of the Port” briefing September 14th at Jack Block Park.

TUESDAY: Terminal 5 modernization, port-truck backup relief on Northwest Seaport Alliance agenda

Two items of West Seattle interest on the agenda as the Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners meet together tomorrow as managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance:

TERMINAL 5 MODERNIZATION: While port reps have said recently that there’s no tenant yet for an expanded Terminal 5 in West Seattle, tomorrow’s NWSA meeting includes authorization for actions related to the “modernization” project, which could be authorized for construction as soon as November if there’s a tenant commitment by then. The items on tomorrow’s agenda include raising the spending authorization to $25.4 million, with authorization/funding of $5.2 million for “planning, design, and construction of a railroad quiet zone” near T-5. The agenda item also includes agreements with the city for closing West Marginal Way SW north of Spokane in the future, and an Air Quality Management Program, as well as agreements with two tribes. Here’s the slide deck:

Other documents are downloadable from the agenda.

PORT TRUCK BACKUP RELIEF: The commissioners will be asked to authorize spending up to $2 million to “expand gate hours at … international terminals during the 2017 peak season,” which, according to the agenda memo, starts in August and continues through December. NWSA/port reps talked about the backups at last week’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (WSB coverage here).

MEETING INFO: The aforementioned items are on the part of tomorrow’s agenda that is scheduled to start at 11:30 am Tuesday at the Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center, with a public-comment period before the action items.

@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Who’s responsible for dealing with port-truck trouble?

(2015 photo by Don Brubeck)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When port-bound trucks clog routes leading to shipping terminals, who’s ultimately accountable for clearing them, and preventing future problems?

That was part of what was explored in depth during port reps’ visit last night to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which also reviewed key points made by participants in its June workshop about light-rail routing.

First:

PORT TRUCKS: As they had done at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, operations executive Zachary Thomas from the Northwest Seaport Alliance and Port of Seattle communicator Mick Shultz talked, and answered questions, about the truck traffic.

Thomas explained again about how the shifting alliances in the shipping business had led to the “additional volume (for) some terminals” and less for others. The “general shift of volume from Tacoma to Seattle” led to a 40 percent increase in volume at Terminal 18 on the east side of Harbor Island at one point this spring, Thomas said, noting that similar changes were happening around the world at the same time, “massive changes” that meant “for the first two to four weeks of the new alliance(s) … the vessels were just all over the place.” (Terminal 46, further north, didn’t see any change, though.)

At the time of that volume increase, “you would have seen a lot of trucks, no doubt about it.” The terminal operator, SSA, did take action in response to what was going on, Thomas said – though not enough to prevent backups. So that led to some grilling on who could have and should have done more.

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One more Seafair Torchlight alert that might affect you long before the parade

July 27, 2017 5:49 pm
|    Comments Off on One more Seafair Torchlight alert that might affect you long before the parade
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

(Photo from 2015 pre-parade float procession out of West Seattle)

We’ve been mentioning all week that the northbound Alaskan Way Viaduct will be closed for a while Saturday evening for the return of the Seafair Torchlight Run, before the downtown parade (which is NOT on The Viaduct). There’s one other way you might be affected – though we don’t have official comment from Seafair, “no parking” signs along both sides of Harbor Avenue SW indicate that the parade floats will again be traveling to/from, and stored at, Terminal 5 before Saturday night’s parade, as has been done in in past years. South of the Harbor Ave. gate to the port facility, the signs on the south/eastbound side prohibit parking 2 am-10 am Saturday morning, while north/westbound signs prohibit parking 7 pm Saturday night-2 am Sunday morning. The past few years, the floats have headed out around 8 am Saturday, but pending an official response from Seafair, we don’t yet know this year’s schedule.

DOCKED IN WEST SEATTLE: Missile-defense radar ship Pacific Tracker

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:19 PM SATURDAY: Remember six years ago, when the bulbous SBX was a floating fixture here for a few months? Tonight, another missile-defense radar vessel is visiting West Seattle – the SS Pacific Tracker. It and the SBX are both featured in this 2014 roundup of “The Wild Radar Ships That Make Missile Defense Possible.” Thanks to Paul Nicholson for today’s tip and photo; the Northwest Seaport Alliance schedule shows the Pacific Tracker scheduled to be in port in Seattle until Monday; MarineTraffic.com shows it berthed right now at Terminal 5. MT also shows it came here from Honolulu; it and another missile-defense ship were reported to be there last month “after participating in a first-of-its-kind test intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile target high over the Pacific on May 30.”

MONDAY UPDATE: Port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells us it’ll be here about a week: “It’s taking on some provisions for the crew, fuel and water. It may have some light maintenance performed, as well.”

Port of Seattle expecting truck-traffic increase at Harbor Island’s Terminal 18


(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.

TERMINAL 5 MODERNIZATION: One more approval

The city’s latest Land Use Information Bulletin brings notice of one more approval for the port’s Terminal 5 modernization project – this time, from the state Department of Ecology, allowing installation of a sheet pile wall as part of the project. This comes two weeks after key city approvals for the project, and it means the clock is ticking for anyone interested in appealing these approvals – the latest notice says you have until May 4th, and explains how. The port, meantime, has not yet finalized how it will fund the project, but is expected to make that decision later this year.

UPDATE: ‘Shoreline Substantial Development’ approvals for proposed Terminal 5 expansion

image1 (52)
(July 2016 aerial of West Seattle with Terminal 5 at left, shared by David)

12:48 PM: From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, a notice of approvals for the proposed expansion of Terminal 5 in West Seattle: It’s the “conditional grant(ing) of permission for “Shoreline Substantial Development” to both expand the terminal and do the dredging necessary for the project – you can read the full decision here. Other approvals are needed – and we have an inquiry out to the port to ask about the project’s overall status; in the meantime, as the notice says, “This decision is appealable to the Washington State Shoreline Hearings Board until at least 4/24/2017,” and this page explains how. The last public discussion of the project was at a City Council meeting in January; at that time, the projected completion date was described as 2020.

2:59 PM: Here’s the statement so far from the Port. We’re still trying to get information on what remains for a final go-ahead:

Today the City of Seattle published the Master Use Permit (MUP) Analysis and Decision with Draft Conditions for the Terminal 5 Improvements Project proposed by the Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA). Publication of the MUP Analysis and Decision is an important but routine step for large, public capital projects like Terminal 5.

The Port and NWSA have worked with the City to utilize best practices to mitigate and track air quality and noise issues related to renewed operations at T-5, including a commitment to provide shorepower for ships calling at Terminal 5. Best practices will also be incorporated around gate management, truck parking and signal optimization on Spokane Street that will manage and reduce congestion, along with air and noise concerns. Further, the Port and the NWSA are committed to being good neighbors by minimizing train horn noise with a “quiet zone.”

The Port and NWSA are moving forward with the Terminal 5 project in order to enhance and maintain the competitiveness of our trade gateway, providing economic benefits including jobs, market access for exports grown and made in the region, and imports beneficial to the regional and national economy.

ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: The answer to our followup question about what’s still ahead, from port spokesperson Peter McGraw: “We will complete the acquisition of building permits and Army Corps permit. We will be looking to fund the project later this year.”

FOLLOWUP: Former Matson Lurline leaves T-5 on last voyage

Thanks to Maggie for the tip: The long-laid-up cargo ship that was the latest Matson vessel to carry the name Lurline is off on its final voyage. From downtown, overlooking foggy Elliott Bay (photo at right), she spotted it being towed this morning from West Seattle’s Terminal 5, where it had arrived six weeks ago, as reported here, and we subsequently confirmed with the Port of Seattle that it had departed. It’s off to be scrapped. This report from last year says Matson has new vessels on order, including one that will be the sixth to carry the name Lurline.

Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick out

3:28 PM: The Port of Seattle has announced that CEO Ted Fick has resigned:

The Port of Seattle Commissioners accepted the resignation of CEO Ted Fick today in public session. The special meeting was called for this specific action.

“We accept the resignation of Ted Fick, and acknowledge his desire to return to the private sector,” said Commission President Tom Albro. “We are currently working through the details of his departure and will defer further comment until those details are resolved.”

Chief Operating Officer Dave Soike will serve as interim CEO. Soike has over 35 years of experience at many levels and lines of business at the Port of Seattle. A public process for a replacement will begin later this year.

This comes one week after he was reported to have gone on paid leave. Fick, hired a little over two years ago, was “the Port’s first CEO from the private sector,” according to his now-taken-down bio page on the port’s website.

ADDED 4 PM: The port announcement now includes a link to Fick’s resignation letter.

VIDEO: Terminal 5 project discussed @ Seattle City Council

IMG_8342
(Terminal 5, photographed recently from the bridge)

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.

Now in at Terminal 5: USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak

January 15, 2017 1:41 pm
|    Comments Off on Now in at Terminal 5: USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak
 |   Port of Seattle | Seen at sea | West Seattle news

20170115 120342 Sgt Matej Kocak coming into Port of Seattle - 1024x576

1:41 PM: Just noticed via MarineTraffic.com that the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak has arrived at Terminal 5. The Port of Seattle told WSB on January 5th that it was due to stop at T-5 January 9-15, so we’ve been watching for it. The 821-foot Kocak is a “surge sealift ship,” as explained here. As previously reported, another Military Sealift Command ship, USNS Bob Hope, might berth here later this year – we haven’t heard yet whether the proposal by the port and Foss Maritime was accepted.

20170115 120754 Sgt Matej Kocak coming into Port of Seattle - 1024x768

4:17 PM: Alki photographer David Hutchinson just sent photos of the Kocak’s arrival (thank you!) – added above.

Another ship bound for temporary Terminal 5 stop: USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak

The Port of Seattle doesn’t know yet whether the proposal to berth USNS Bob Hope at Terminal 5 in West Seattle will be accepted. But another Military Sealift Command ship is on the way for a short stay, according to port spokesperson Peter McGraw:

kocak
(Military Sealift Command photo)

He says USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak is scheduled to arrive at T-5 next Monday and stay for about a week. It’s a “dry cargo-carrying surge sealift ship,” slightly smaller than the Bob Hope – 821 feet. According to MarineTraffic.com, it’s currently docked in Tacoma. The ship is named for a World War I U.S. Marine Corps hero. It made headlines two years ago for running aground off Okinawa. During its temporary T-5 stop, it will join the soon-to-be-scrapped Matson Lurline.

UPDATE: West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to be almost-last stop for Matson’s Lurline

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12:14 PM: The Port of Seattle says the long-idle Matson cargo ship Lurline will soon be at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – as one of its last stops. The 1973-built, 826-foot roll-on-roll-off vessel has been laid up for years, currently at Terminal 25, and now it’s set to be scrapped. But first, port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB, it’ll be towed to T-5 today. The Lurline will remain at T-5 several weeks, McGraw says, before it’s towed away to “a scrap yard in the Gulf.” We’ll update later when the ship shows up here.

1:20 PM: The Lurline has just arrived at T-5. Photo added above.

FOLLOWUP: Port commissioners unanimously approve pursuing USNS Bob Hope for Terminal 5

December 20, 2016 10:49 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Port commissioners unanimously approve pursuing USNS Bob Hope for Terminal 5
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

Last Thursday, we published the Northwest Seaport Alliance (ports of Seattle and Tacoma) announcement of a special meeting to authorize pursuit of an interim proposal for West Seattle’s Terminal 5 – serving as the berth for the Military Sealift Command‘s USNS Bob Hope. The meeting was held first thing Monday morning; we weren’t able to cover it in person but have just listened to the audio on the NWSA website. The meeting lasted less than half an hour, and no one from the public showed up to comment; when a question about public reaction came up, most of what was mentioned had to do with the comments on the WSB story. One commissioner wondered about security for the 950-foot-long Bob Hope; a staffer said the basic T-5 security plan “wouldn’t be affected that much,” though there would be a “restricted area” around the ship itself. After the discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve having the NWSA join Foss Maritime in offering a proposal to get the ship here. The memo accompanying the Monday agenda this contract could bring the NWSA a little over half a million dollars a year. It would also extend Foss’s use of T-5, otherwise set to expire in early February.

USNS Bob Hope to berth at West Seattle’s Terminal 5?

(UPDATED to reflect that the meeting day, December 19th, is next Monday)

That’s a file photo of the USNS Bob Hope – a Military Sealift Command ship that might be berthed next year at West Seattle’s Terminal 5. Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint Seattle-Tacoma ports’ organization) spokesperson Tara Mattina tells WSB that a special public meeting is set for next (updated) Monday (December 19th) to discuss a plan for the NWSA to join Foss Maritime in seeking a contract for the ship to be berthed at T-5. This would require Foss to have a deal with the port beyond the February expiration of its the one it has now. First, some background, from Mattina:

The USNS Bob Hope is the first ship in the Navy’s first class of large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), and is part of the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC). The primary mission of these ships is to transport shore-based equipment and supplies in support of military and humanitarian operations.

This past summer the Bob Hope participated in the Cascadia Rising earthquake recovery exercise. These ships are a key asset in recovery efforts in the event of a widespread natural disaster.

The ships are operated by 30 civilian mariners who work for a private company under contract to MSC and up to 50 embarked military personnel who monitor and maintain the equipment being transported. The ships are maintained in reduced operational status, which means they are operationally ready in four days.

Should Foss and the NWSA be successful in winning this bid, the ship would berth at Terminal 5. The Navy plans to run the ship on shore power while at berth.

This type of interim use for Terminal 5 is part of the alliance’s strategic business plan to diversify cargo and maximize terminal use. It will in no way interfere with the modernization of the terminal and the goal of creating a first-class container terminal.

Lots of additional information is in this memo attached to the agenda for next (updated) Monday’s meeting. It says that the branch of General Dynamics that operates the Bob Hope and similar ships is seeking “berth space, facilities, services, equipment and support in order to maintain USNS Bob Hope in ready-reserve status for a base term of one year.” That year would be the entirety of 2017, with the possibility of extending the contract “up to four additional 1-year terms.” The document also says “The RFP provides for other vessels to moor during times when USNS Bob Hope is away from berth” and that this could bring in at least $300,000 a year. It also notes that Foss’s lease for T-5 ends in February, so the NWSA would have to make a new deal with Foss in order for that company to handle this. (The Bob Hope is currently in San Diego.)

If you have something to say about this, there’s a public-comment period during the meeting at 8:30 am next (updated) Monday at Pier 69 downtown (2711 Alaskan Way), or you can e-mail comments@nwseaportalliance.com.

P.S. The tanker Evergreen State is the ship you’re currently seeing at T-5. We asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about it after a Seattle Fire medical call to T-5 earlier this week. He explains, “Foss still has a 50-acre lease at T-5; they received a call over the weekend that the Evergreen State needed a berth to undertake some repair work to the piping. The vessel will be at T-5 until the work is complete. Although a tanker, its voids are dry and empty.”

TERMINAL 5 MODERNIZATION: Port announces final environmental-impact statement, with ‘preferred alternative’

(UPDATED 11:35 AM with “what’s next” now that this is public)

(January 2015 photo of Terminal 5 by Long Bach Nguyen)

10:23 AM: Just announced by the port: It’s finished the final environmental-impact statement for the proposed $200+-million modernization of Terminal 5 in West Seattle. We haven’t read the fine print yet but the news release says some community requests are addressed – including shore power so ships aren’t running don’t have to run their engines while docked:

The Port of Seattle has completed the environmental analysis of Terminal 5 and has prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the project to modernize the cargo-handling facility in order to serve larger cargo vessels. The proposed upgrades to Terminal 5 are wharf rehabilitation, berth deepening, electrical service and improvements to the upland portions of the property.

“Based on public comment we are including a number of improvements, such as shore power for vessels, installing gates for noise and safety mitigation for rail, and significant traffic improvement measures,” said John Creighton, Port of Seattle Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “We want to thank the public for weighing in on this proposal during the comment period.”

“With this Final Environmental Impact Statement for Terminal 5, we are one step closer to making this prime maritime asset ‘Big Ship Ready’ and able to handle the largest container vessels working the market today,” said Connie Bacon, Port of Tacoma Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This region needs this terminal to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”

Mitigation measures for the project include construction of plug-in capability for shore power at two berths, tracking of air quality performance, establishment of a safety corridor between the Terminal 5 gate and the Duwamish river in order to minimize the need to use locomotive horns, required use of ambient-sensing broadband back up alarms, implementation of a Gate Queue Management plan, establishing a truck driver information system, comprehensive traffic signal improvements along SW Spokane Street and an operation noise management plan to ensure and monitor compliance with the Seattle noise code.

The FEIS evaluated potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics (including light and glare), historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services. The Port of Seattle Commission must approve the recommended improvements in public session.

Copies of the FEIS are available for review at the Seattle Central Library, Delridge Library, Southwest Library, Highpoint Library, South Park Library, and West Seattle Library. Copies are also available at the Port of Seattle, Maritime Environment and Sustainability Department, Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington, during business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

People interested in receiving a copy of the FEIS should contact Brenda Thomas at 206-787-3382 or email at: SEPA.p@portseattle.org. The FEIS can also be reviewed and downloaded at the Port of Seattle website and at the Terminal 5 Improvements Project Online Open House.

The entire environmental review followed community concerns, including a petition drive, that followed the port’s original announcement that it didn’t believe a full-scale environmental impact statement would be needed. The purpose of the EIS (direct link here – use dropdown under “Current Projects”) is for use by agencies making decisions about permits for the project, which the port says is expected to be complete by 2020.

11:35 AM: We talked with port spokesperson Peter McGraw regarding “what’s next” now that this is out. For one, there is an appeals process – deadline, November 1st. That’s explained here, on the “Next Steps” page of the “online open house.” And, McGraw points out, a big part of the final EIS is the announcement of the port’s “preferred alternative” – it’s the one that does NOT include “upland improvements” beyond T-5’s existing footprint.

Seen at sea: USNS Wally Schirra; Hanjin Marine, and one on the way

October 11, 2016 1:55 pm
|    Comments Off on Seen at sea: USNS Wally Schirra; Hanjin Marine, and one on the way
 |   Port of Seattle | Seen at sea | West Seattle news

Two vessel-traffic notes:

gregphotoschirra

USNS WALLY SCHIRRA: Thanks to Greg for sending that photo, right after we spotted the USNS Wally Schirra passing West Seattle, as shown on MarineTraffic.com. It appeared to be headed for the Manchester Fuel Depot. The ship, named for the astronaut, is a cargo ship that’s part of the Military Sealift Command. The seven-year-old, 689-foot ship is homeported in San Diego.

We noticed that ship while researching part of this:

HANJIN UPDATE: A month and a half after the Hanjin bankruptcy filing, one Hanjin ship is anchored off Manchester, while another one is en route to pick up empty containers. The Hanjin Marine is visible from West Seattle if you look west of here, north of Blake Island. Meantime, this Thursday (October 13th), the Hanjin Seattle is scheduled to dock at Terminal 46 downtown, and, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, tentatively scheduled to load 1,000 empty containers. The Wall Street Journal reported today that T-46 is one of two West Coast docks – along with a pier in Long Beach, California – that is accepting empty Hanjin containers.

Terminal 5 and rest of the ‘State of the Port’ @ West Seattle Chamber of Commerce

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(Empty Terminal 5, steps away from site of today’s lunch – WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Tough questions for Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance leadership at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting that just wrapped up at port-owned Jack Block Park.

Top topics: The proposed Terminal 5 expansion – and whether it would go forward without a tenant being signed – and the Hanjin bankruptcy.

luncheontalkers
(WSB photo, L-R: Commissioner John Creighton, deputy CEO Kurt Beckett)

First to speak, Port Commissioner John Creighton, who made note of the recent one-year anniversary of the teaming of Seattle and Tacoma in the Northwest Seaport Alliance. He said that from a variety of standpoints, “it’s really worked wonderfully. … We had to change what we were doing, to remain relevant …”

As for the Port of Seattle itself, Creighton declared it to be “at a good place … we still have a lot of challenges, but they’re good challenges,” such as “growing like gangbusters at the airport.”

Read More

FOLLOWUP: Seattle-bound Hanjin Scarlet finally offloading at Prince Rupert

3:24 PM: The Hanjin Scarlet is being offloaded at Prince Rupert. That’s news here because it was the next Hanjin ship scheduled to dock at Seattle’s Terminal 46, until its parent company filed for receivership in South Korea. Instead of docking at the British Columbia port, Hanjin Scarlet remained anchored in its harbor – until today. It docked at 6 am, according to an update from the Prince Rupert Port Authority. It had been scheduled to offload there in time to arrive here last Saturday. We’re checking with the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the combined Seattle/Tacoma port entity – to see what they’ve heard about a possible arrival here.

5:54 PM: NWSA spokesperson Tara Mattina says they have no new information yet on whether Hanjin Scarlet will head here from Prince Rupert, but hope to find out something tomorrow. Also tomorrow: The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly lunch meeting (11:30 am, Jack Block Park) looks at “the state of the port,” with commissioner John Creighton and deputy CEO Kurt Beckett scheduled to speak.

Despite Hanjin trouble, Port of Seattle insists Terminal 5 modernization is ‘vital’

image1 (52)
(July aerial of West Seattle with Terminal 5 at left, shared by David)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The news of shipping line Hanjin, a major Port of Seattle customer, filing for the equivalent of bankruptcy in its home country, South Korea, has sparked renewed discussion about the nine-digit-price-tag plan to modernize West Seattle’s Terminal 5.

Is the project really necessary, amid the turmoil in the shipping industry, with the port operating without T-5 for more than two years now? We put that question to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the entity formed a year ago by the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

First, the latest on how Hanjin’s receivership filing on Wednesday is affecting the Port of Seattle: Read More

PORT TRUCKS: New terminal-gate program to start next week, aimed at reducing backups

(SDOT webcam screenshot from June 2016 backup)

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma are going to try something new starting next week in hopes of lessening truck backups as drivers wait to get into cargo terminals. From the announcement:

The Northwest Seaport Alliance will reimburse up to $2 million to extend gate hours at its international container terminals during peak season.

With cargo owners forecasting a 3 to 5 percent increase in volume during peak season, which will start in late August and continue through early November, the alliance proposes to help the marine terminal operators avoid congestion on surface streets in the port industrial area and keep import and export cargo flowing efficiently.

This program will reimburse terminal operators for some of the costs to operate flexed gates from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and lunch gate hours Monday through Friday during peak season.

It also would provide one off-shift gate per week. Off-shift gates are after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or any shift on Saturday or Sunday.

This is set to start on Monday (August 22nd), according to the full announcement, which you can see here.

Deeper water by Terminal 5? Public meeting next week

Along with the ongoing environmental review of the big proposal to “modernize” the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 in West Seattle, a parallel process is under way for possible deepening of the water nearby. One week from tonight, a public meeting is planned for information and comments about the tentative plan announced recently by the port. From the official announcement:

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Seattle have agreed on a tentatively selected plan of -57’ Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) for both the East and West Waterways. This depth will allow the Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, to handle the current and future generations of ultra-large containerships. Comments on the Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment may be submitted by email, at the upcoming public meeting, or in written form.

Details of the plan are here; the meeting is at 5:30 pm Thursday, August 18th, at South Seattle College‘s Georgetown campus (6737 Corson Ave. S.) If you want to comment by e-mail – the address is SeattleHarbor@usace.army.mil and the deadline is August 31st.

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