It’s been almost three weeks since the long-awaited announcement of a tenant for Terminal 5, enabling the Port of Seattle to move forward with a $340 million plan to modernize T-5. Managing members of the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the port commissioners of Seattle and Tacoma – meet this Tuesday to vote on sending the project out to bid; their votes on the leases for T-5, short term and long term, were also originally set for this meeting but are now not expected until March 19th. Tuesday’s agenda has links to the documents that have been made public so far. From those documents, here’s the overview recapping what the $340 million project is intended to do:
Program objectives include a terminal that is capable of handling two ultra-large class vessels, by early-2023. The improved wharf will support up to 12 cranes and provide ship-to-shore power for vessels berthed at the facility. …
Scope of Work
The Berth Modernization Project includes reconstruction of the waterside and landside crane rails, slope stabilization, berth deepening, and electrical supply/distribution upgrades, new fender system, and structural rehabilitation of the dock.
The upcoming program authorization request will cover construction of the Berth Modernization Project, tenant reimbursable stormwater treatment construction, and design and permitting of the remaining Uplands Improvement Project elements.
The Berth Modernization Project construction documents are ready to advertise, allowing work to begin as early as June 2019. Completion of the project would be phased to allow operations to begin in the north berth (Phase 1) while construction of the south berth is underway (Phase 2).
The north berth is where Matson would move on an interim basis, relocating from Terminal 30, as announced when the T-5 plan was revealed earlier this month.
Meantime, if you are wondering exactly where the $340 million is coming from, we asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw. Since this is an NWSA project, Seattle and Tacoma will basically split the cost. He adds:
Port of Seattle will be using a combination of tax levy cash, currently in the Harbor Development Fund that was set aside for this purpose, and general obligation bonds.
The Port of Tacoma anticipates using existing cash reserves generated through operations and previous borrowing. No additional Port of Tacoma debt will be required to fund this program.
There will also be investments from the proposed terminal operator.
That’s SSA, which is expected to invest up to $140 million in the T-5 first phase ($50 million in cranes, $50 million in “backland paving/improvements,” $35-$40 million in yard equipment).
The aforementioned levy is a countywide tax from which the port gets some of its money and has long been collecting below its authorization level. This document includes an explanation of this year’s levy increase:
… median household property tax payment to the Port would increase by $1.39, going from $68.80 per year in 2018 to $70.20 per year in 2019. In 2018, of the $5.6 billion that King County collected in property taxes, just 1.3 percent went to the Port of Seattle. The property tax levy made up less than five percent of the Port’s cash revenue in 2018.
McGraw says, “The Port has included the T-5 modernization program into its tax levy uses for the past few years before the levy increase, set aside in the Harbor Development Fund. Although T-5 is part of our waterfront re-visioning, the bulk of the increase is going toward … other waterfront projects.”
Meantime, the next three weeks before the T-5 lease vote on March 19th, McGraw says, will be used to “complete due diligence on the leases, which are decades-long commitments involving many entities, including local companies and international cargo carriers.”
Tuesday’s meeting starts at 9 am at the Conference Center on the south side of Sea-Tac Airport, and will include a public-comment period. If you have a comment on the T-5 plan, you can also contact the NWSA via e-mail.
P.S. Tuesday’s agenda also includes more on the future of Terminal 46, part of which the Port of Seattle is proposing using as an added cruise terminal. The groundwork is being laid by an agreement between the NWSA and the port that says 29 acres at the north end of T-46 would be used as a cruise facility starting in 2022. $200 million – half – its cost is envisioned as Port-funded, the other half by its prospective tenant.