Ten months after the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the cargo-focused partnership of the Seattle and Tacoma ports – opened the first modernized berth at Terminal 5 in West Seattle [map], work continues on the second. And the first is not yet fully operational – as we reported last Monday, the shore-power system hasn’t been used yet. That was one of the T-5 topics discussed at two meetings this past week – on Tuesday, the NWSA managing members (Seattle/Tacoma port commissioners), and on Wednesday, the District 1 Community Network (a coalition of advocates from organizations in West Seattle and South Park). Here are the highlights of what we saw and heard:
Terminal 5’s north berth had 52 vessel calls through August. More than 30 percent of those ships’ cargo was moved through the terminal on rail (one of the dock’s major attributes), 40 percent of the containers that move through the terminal are empties, being shipped back overseas. That still leaves a lot of cargo being handled with trucks, and a focus right now is to find close-by parking so the trucks don’t wind up overnighting in neighborhoods – they’re working to create about 100 spaces on Harbor Island, along 11th and 13th SW. They’re also working on creating parking at T-25 (map), which could hold more than 300 truck spots.
Back to rail – many residents near T-5 have eagerly awaited the Quiet Zone, crossing modifications that should result in less train-horn-blowing. Though it’s part of the T-5 project, SDOT is leading the construction, and expecting to put the project out to bid before year’s end. Here’s the overview of what it’ll involve:
Because of questions at a past briefing, the NWSA reps also brought this graphic showing the Quiet Zone in the context of the 5-way intersection by the major entrance to T-5:
But at both meetings, the shore-power issue sparked the most discussion. The attempt to connect a ship was apparently made on October 8th. The problem that got in the way was described as two computer systems talking to each other (or not, in this case). Wasn’t it tested earlier? staff was asked at the NWSA meeting. The reply was that training had been done, but “each ship is a little different” and they just didn’t know how it would play out until they actually tried to plug a ship into the system. So now they’re troubleshooting. An ILWU Local 19 rep at that meeting, there to comment on another agenda issue, pointed out that their workers had been connecting cruise ships at Pier 91 in Magnolia to shore power “for years.”