Terminal 5 as a holding zone, pre-opening

(Terminal 5 and vicinity, photographed in July by Long Bach Nguyen)

Along with the construction under way at West Seattle’s Terminal 5, the photo shows stacks and stacks of shipping containers. At today’s meeting of the Northwest Seaport Alliance managing members – the port commissioners of Seattle and Tacoma – alliance CEO John Wolfe estimated 6,000 containers are currently there. That’s because of the global shipping logjam, which in turn is why you see vessels at anchor in Elliott Bay and off Manchester, waiting to dock in Seattle or Tacoma. Wolfe said the current volume is “overwhelm(ing) … most of our terminals are operating at full capacity”; they’re hoping the opening of the first modernized Terminal 5 cargo berth in January will take some of the pressure off. According to the newest set of NWSA stats, imports are where the growth is, while exports are currently declining.

7 Replies to "Terminal 5 as a holding zone, pre-opening"

  • Move cargo NOW August 3, 2021 (7:06 pm)

    Hoping a terminal opening in January will help the current logjam? It’s August!!! How about working three shifts to keep cargo moving the way you used to.  Terminal 5 on dock rail used to work day and night moving cargo. That rail can be utilized NOW not in January to move the log jammed cargo. 

    • 22blades August 4, 2021 (5:02 am)

      I agree. I think entities in the U.S. are way too inefficient by not using what they have already. Both labor & these entities have to adapt including around the clock operations. The Port of Seattle is particularly wasteful. They gobble up properties like a real estate firm & then leave them horribly underutilized. From terminal space to vast tracts of land surrounding SeaTac Airport. It’s a huge disconnect.

  • Al King August 3, 2021 (7:30 pm)

    Breathlessly waiting to see SDOT’s response when freight trucks to/from Term 5 clog up the low bridge. It WILL happen.  Wonder if they’ll restrict them to ensure EV access as they do now with cars. How much do you want to bet they’ll change the rules?

    • wseattleite August 3, 2021 (7:48 pm)

      They won’t have too.  Freight has access.

    • Don Brubeck August 4, 2021 (7:16 am)

      The primary purpose of the low bridge is to serve seaport freight movement.

  • Al King August 4, 2021 (7:04 am)

    What i meant is this. If a fire truck/aid car/police car is blocked from responding because freight trucks have blocked the bridge what will SDOT say/do???

  • Don Brubeck August 4, 2021 (4:22 pm)

    Looking at the linked newest set of NWSA stats,  you can see that the number of containers is increasing over the very low pandemic-affected volume of 2020, but it is not as high this year as it was in previous years.  It is on pace to be lower than 2018 and 2019. The cause of the backlog does not seem to be the volume of containers coming in on ships. The port tenants and workforce obviously have the capacity to load and unload containers and move them around at the terminals. The backlog must be due to other factors, such as lack of rail or over-the-road truck transport capacity, or both.

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