By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The biggest signs of Terminal 5‘s future relaunch will arrive in June – the new cranes that will be used for cargo loading once the modernized north berth opens early next year.
That’s one of the updates presented during a District 1 Community Network guest appearance by Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance reps last Wednesday. (NWSA is the name for the joint efforts of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, and the T-5 project is under its umbrella.)
It was an abbreviated version of the full T-5 briefing they had presented one day earlier to the NWSA managing members (Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners) – you can see that here, and you can read the full briefing (including the slide deck) in the agenda from that meeting:
The cranes are expected to arrive in the first week of June. Meantime, construction work continues, including building the rails for those cranes.
We asked what led to the delay, announced in February, of the north berth’s opening, now set for early next year rather than the middle of this year. (That isn’t the first delay – it followed one announced last year.) Project director Emma Del Vento replied, “Every element touched on the delay,” even the West Seattle Bridge closure. She said the call was made by engineering director Thais Howard (also at the meeting) and her team. Howard cited project components including a new addition, a need for repairs at the gate complex, as explained in the NWSA briefing documents:
There is significant damage to the structure and pavement around the scales. The Lease puts responsibility for damage due to the displacement of soils, water intrusion, or to the paving system to the NWSA as the owner of the facility. Because of this, the repairs in and around the Gate Complex appear to be NWSA responsibility under the Lease. These repairs are required for Phase 1 operations. The City of Seattle has already agreed to expedite necessary construction permits to support moving the overall project along as quickly as possible. Some repairs will be completed to support the beginning of operations of Phase 1, and the complete repair will be completed in Q1 2022.
That’s not the only repair project they’ve had to tackle:
Unfortunately, the project experienced a theft at the new T-5 main electrical substation in December. Installed copper cables were cut and material removed from the installation. Repair work is being completed and costs will be determined.
Another delay factor – the toe wall, which is not yet complete, also explained in the NWSA briefing documents:
The toe wall is the underwater wall driven into the sediment to secure the wharf and its slope stabilization piling system. The toe wall must occur before dredging and will allow the berth dredge to -55 ft depth. Toe wall driving could not reach design depth and has stopped for this in-water work season (August 15 – February 15, annually) due to contractor means and methods of the installation and/or existing differing site conditions. Additionally, portions of the toe wall that have been installed have been removed or cut to height to allow crane delivery by June 2021.
With delays and scope changes, the project cost could rise to $380 million, from the previously estimated $340 million.
In other financial notes, the briefing mentioned that the state was allocating $4.4 million to help cover the costs of making shore power available at Terminal 5, a major point of discussion during project planning, generating significant community interest as it would reduce pollution from ships’ emissions. But in Q&A, the port/NWSA guests reaffirmed that they’re still not planning on requiring shore-power use – about half the ships currently calling on the West Coast have the capability to plug in while docked, so they’re just planning to offer it at both T-5 berths to “any vessels that want it.”
Among other topics discussed at the D1CN meeting:
CANDIDATE FORUMS: Too soon for dates, but the coalition is continuing to plan on hosting forums for the four citywide offices that will be on the ballot this year – mayor, city attorney, and citywide council positions 8 and 9. Members will be contributing questions.
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: South Park has a new online radio station, Amigos de Seattle … High Point is getting ready to plant trees, and will welcome back Bike Works, including a donation event next month … For those who are experiencing food insecurity, South Park Senior Center continues delivering meals, and Highland Park Improvement Club continues offering food to families on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The District 1 Community Network meets at 7 pm first Wednesdays; we’ll publish participation information when the next meeting gets closer.