West Seattle, Washington
WHY ONE RESTROOM IS CLOSED: Thanks to Jessica for sending the photo and wondering what happened to the men’s restroom in the park’s easternmost comfort station:
Port spokesperson Peter McGraw says it was damaged by fire, apparently this past Monday. “Repairs are currently underway,” he said, but no estimate for reopening yet.
PIER’S FUTURE: Steps away from that comfort station is the park pier that’s been closed for months because of safety concerns.
Back in spring, the port conducted a survey asking your thoughts on the pier’s future, promising to update the community afterward. Five months later, no word. Andrew emailed us wondering what ever happened to it. McGraw says the results should go public “likely sometime in the middle of October.”
As noted in our rwport last night about a visit to the West Seattle Bridge by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg, their travels included a stop at under-construction Terminal 5. There, port and maritime reps touted their environmental efforts – from sea-noise reduction to shore power to trucking electrification – and pitched for more federal funding to help them make more progress. As a reminder of what’s at stake, Seattle Port Commissioner Fred Felleman presented Trottenberg with a framed orca photo of his:
(We talked with Felleman earlier this summer about orcas and T-5.) At right in the photo above is Edward DeNike of SSA Marine, the tenant for Terminal 5’s first modernized berth and operator of many other terminals. His remarks included a mention of what’s the most striking feature of T-5 right now:
DeNike said T-5 is now a holding zone for more than 8,000 containers. That’s up from the 6,000 we reported earlier this month. They’ve been trucked over from Terminals 30 and 18, which are already maxed out. Once T-5’s first berth opens early next year, they’re hoping it’ll take some of the pressure off. After the briefing, we asked DeNike about the status of a decision on which shipping line(s) will be first to use T-5. He said they’re talking with a few now and should have a decision within about a month.
Next Monday, the next phase of in-water work starts at the Terminal 5 modernization project in West Seattle. The window when this work is allowed – meant to reduce the effects on fish – opens on Sunday (August 15th), but port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells us the work will actually begin on Monday. “Initial work activities will be vibratory toe wall pile driving in the north berth and vibratory pile extraction in the south berth.” The work window is open until February 15th; the first modernized berth at T-5 is expected to open in January. The port’s alert notes that “the City of Seattle Noise Ordinance limits construction activities, including vibratory pile driving, to between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekdays and between 9 a.m. 10 p.m. weekends and legal holidays. The City of Seattle further limits Impact pile driving to between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.” There may be Sunday work along the way, but the port promises that will be preceded by additional community notification.
If you’re going to South Park for the Duwamish River Festival, stop by the new Duwamish River Community Hub just a block south at 14th Avenue South and South Cloverdale. The Port of Seattle has leased the former Napoli Pizza building as a center for various gatherings, inside as well as out:
Outside the Hub today, you’ll find Mercadito vendor booths as well as information booths including the port explaining the new People’s Park along the river nearby:
You can take a guided walking tour to the park at 4:30 pm. We covered the park groundbreaking at the former Terminal 117 a year ago.
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.
Just got this belated FYI from the Port of Seattle: “In-water, impact pile driving is taking place today and tomorrow at Terminal 5. Pile driving will occur only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and will conclude on Thursday, July 29.” Some of the current work is explained in our report from June just after the new T-5 cranes arrived; the first of two modernized berths at T-5 is scheduled to start serving cargo ships early next year.
Across the bay from the northeast West Seattle shore, one of those cranes at Terminal 46 (south of Colman Dock) just got a new lease on life, and it’s partly because of the Terminal 5 project over here. The Pacific Maritime Association is leasing the one on the left, Crane 80, from the Northwest Seaport Alliance for a new training facility. Two weeks after NWSA managing members – the port commissioners of Seattle and Tacoma – approved it, there was a media briefing at the terminal Thursday. Among those speaking, Seattle port commissioner Stephanie Bowman:
The PMA – 70 ocean carriers and terminal operators operating at the 29 West Coast Ports – has been conducting training at West Seattle’s Terminal 5, but won’t be able to do that once the first modernized berth there opens early next year. PMA’s Nairobi Russ talked about the training’s role in worker readiness:
ILWU Local 19 president Rich Austin said this fills a growing need.
To get ready for use in training, NWSA documents say, Crane 80 needs about $600,000 in work. The cranes became port property after Total Terminals International left T-46 at the end of 2019.
For use of the crane, part of T-46, and office space, the PMA will pay about $1.2 million a year. T-46’s longterm future remains unsettled – a proposal to convert part of it into a cruise-ship terminal was shelved last year. But the training facility won’t be its only near-term use – it’ll be used for container overflow too, incoming and outgoing.
Seattle’s been seemingly awash in cruise ships for days now, so you might be surprised to hear that the official Seattle-to-Alaska season starts today. Around 5 pm, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas is scheduled to leave the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Magnolia, and that’ll be this year’s first boatload of paying passengers (previous voyages have been “test cruises,” explained here). To mark the occasion, the Port of Seattle invited the media to a dockside briefing this morning. It included a ceremonial moment – the ship’s Captain Stig Nilsen presenting port executive director Steve Metruck with a plaque and a model of the ship.
Metruck declared that cruising is returning with improvements. Ships have implemented stringent COVID protocols, for one. But after our previous mentions generated reader discussion about environmental concerns, we asked Metruck what’s changed along those lines, He mentioned that the terminal at Smith Cove is equipped with shore power, and that it’s in the works for Pier 66 downtown. We learned from another port official, however, that this particular ship is not shore-power-ready, so it’s not plugged in, though the other ship currently berthed at Smith Cove, Majestic Princess, is. Maritime Managing Director Stephanie Jones Stebbins also told us that shore power capability for Pier 66 is scheduled to be ready for the 2023 cruise season – the problem until now, she said, is that they would have had to run a line from the Denny substation about a mile east, requiring a lot of road demolition, but instead, they came up with a way to route it via an underwater cable from Pier 46 to the south.
The emission situation, said Jones Stebbins, is not only a matter of plugged in vs. unplugged. She said exhaust scrubbing – explained here – is being used. Environmental advocates, however, say that just swaps air pollution for water pollution; Jones Stebbins says ships cannot discharge the scrubber water while berthed here. The state has a Memorandum of Understanding with the cruise industry on multiple environmental issues.
P.S. After today, the next official cruise departure is on Friday; here’s this year’s schedule.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Four big signs of that progress drew a lot of attention last month – the new T-5 cranes that arrived from China. Their arrival sparked some discussion among WSB commenters about whether the dock modernization project is bad news for Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.
No, says Fred Felleman, a Seattle port commissioner whose background, before taking office in 2016, was in environmental advocacy. (Checking WSB archives, the first time we mentioned him was when he spoke to the Port Commission in 2015, voicing opposition to the use of T-5 for staging Shell‘s Arctic oil-exploration fleet. That was one of the interim uses T-5 has seen since it went out of regular cargo service in 2014.)
(WSB photo, substituted for original phone photo)
6:50 PM: For the past two hours we’ve been just outside Terminal 18 on Harbor Island, where protesters and police have been in a standoff since mid-afternoon. It’s a replication of the current Middle East flashpoint, the Israel/Palestine conflict. An Israeli-owned ship, the Zim San Diego, docked at Terminal 18 on Saturday after a week at anchor in Elliott Bay. The protesters, supporters of Palestine, want to prevent the ship from being unloaded. They’ve been marching and chanting in intersections at/near 13th SW/SW Florida just west of T-18.
(WSB photo, substituted for original phone photo)
A sizable deployment of Seattle and Port police warned them repeatedly to get out of the road or face arrest. As of our departure about 15 minutes ago, they had yet to arrest anyone, but as we wrote this, SPD tweeted that they’ve just made 10 arrests. Several vehicles turned around just short of the protest after protesters approached the drivers to talk to them, although police warned the demonstrators not to do that. There were roughly 100 demonstrators when we arrived; the number fluctuated as they switched intersections and at one point sat in the street. Police used the LRAD speaker to warn them; adding to the clamor are several evangelical Christian counter-demonstrators with a loudspeaker. (Added: You can hear them in the background of this short clip when bicycle officers moved in at one point; no arrests resulted that time.)
Other groups of protesters have led similar demonstrations at other West Coast ports including Oakland and Prince Rupert, B.C.
9:39 PM: The Northwest Seaport Alliance has published a statement saying port and city police are “are providing a safe zone for protesters to ensure individual expression is protected and port operations are not impeded.” There’s been no word of further arrests, nor whether the ship is being unloaded.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One day after Terminal 5‘s four big new cranes arrived from China, port managers gave us and other media a close-up look. While at T-5, we talked with construction managers about the status of the nine-digit dock-modernization project on West Seattle’s eastern shore.
But first, the most frequently asked question: How and when are they taking the 316-foot cranes off heavy-lift ship Zhen Hua 36? SSA, the T-5 north-berth tenant – and the cranes’ owner – says they’ll be rolled off starting Wednesday and, if all goes well, finishing Saturday.
While we were there this morning, crews were working to cut the cranes free of the supports to which they’d been welded for the cross-Pacific journey.
You’ve probably heard a few stats about the cranes. Here are a few more. T-5 handled cargo until 2014, and the tallest cranes it had previously had a “lift over rail” of 115 feet – compared to 175 feet for the new ones – and a reach of 145 feet, compared to 240 feet for the new ones. Take a look up at them with us:
Which shipping lines will those cranes serve first when SSA opens T-5’s north berth early next year? SSA’s Bob Watters, there today for media Q&A, said that hasn’t been decided yet.
The company deals with all the major lines at its terminals around the world; this terminal will be “ready for the next generation of vessels.” Much of the north-berth work is complete; a major task under way now, as we saw this morning, is paving.
We spoke there with construction manager Jonathan Ohta, who talked about the challenges they’ve faced during the project – the paving’s been one of them, as they’re integrating new construction with the old terminal, and that’s meant grade differentials which in turn have resulted in drainage difficulties.
The past few days’ major rainfall left evidence of that, with serious puddling in spots.
Other technical challenges resulted when crews discovered unanticipated conditions. And in-water work has required waiting for “fish windows” – for example, to drive piles for a new “toe wall” along the berth (an “underwater retaining wall,” Ohta explained) they needed to order a special type of pile driver unlike any used before. The pile-driving has to wait for the next “fish window” in August; that will be followed, if all proceeds as planned in the permitting process, with dredging to make the water at the berth five feet deeper (55′ compared to the current 50′).
Ohta said a major point of pride has been continuing work throughout the pandemic while maintaining rigorous COVID safety standards. Right now, the north berth is on track for “substantial completion” by year’s end. The south-berth work is already under way, too.
Some parts of the project are serving both berths, like the new electricity infrastructure, so ships will be able to plug in to shore power.
The most-recent timeline estimates, beyond the north berth’s opening early next year, include opening the south berth by the end of next year, and completing the dredging by March of 2023. The project is under the auspices of the Northwest Seaport Alliance – the joint Seattle-Tacoma port authority – whose managing members (port commissioners) are scheduled to get the next major project briefing at their July 6th meeting.
10:27 AM: First look at the four big new cranes on their way to Terminal 5 in West Seattle:
Thanks to Mike York for sending us that photo from north of Kingston. The Zhen Hua 36 is currently at 10 knots so it’s probably still an hour-plus away from coming into view off West Seattle. We’ll be updating.
11:07 AM: Lynn Hall on Duwamish Head says they’re in view.
11:24 AM: Now entering Elliott Bay. Thanks to Carolyn Newman for first word on that, and David Hutchinson for this photo as the heavy-lift ship rounded West Point on the northwest edge of the bay:
11:40 AM: The 316-foot-tall cranes are now in view from Don Armeni Boat Ramp, a park which will afford a long stretch of viewing as they approach Terminal 5.
12:14 PM: Now headed toward the docks. Next good waterfront vantage point – Jack Block Park.
12:45 PM: The ship has now arrived at T-5. At the Jack Block Park overlook, watching the final leg of the journey, we found a watch party of sorts – longshore workers for whom the T-5 project means new work. The terminal has not been in regular cargo service since 2014.
P.S. More photos later, and we’ll also have a followup tomorrow, when port officials and others are scheduled to have a media briefing.
Want to watch the four big new cranes for Terminal 5 arrive off West Seattle? The Port of Seattle says they are expected here this Sunday, three weeks after leaving China. They are super-post-Panamax cranes, 316 feet tall with 240-foot outreach booms, so – like the four cranes shipped to Tacoma two years ago – it’ll be quite a sight. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB that the arrival of Zhen Hua 36, carrying the cranes, is expected by noon Sunday. The Northwest Seaport Alliance – the joint Seattle-Tacoma port authority that’s overseeing the T-5 project – says the first “modernized” berth at T-5 will open early next year; the cranes will belong to the berth’s tenant, SSA Marine.
A quick end-of-day note from Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw: “Uplands pile driving is complete on Terminal 5. We were supposed to go through the summer, but we finished early.” The next full progress report for the modernization project on West Seattle’s eastern waterfront is expected at the Northwest Seaport Alliance managing members’ meeting in early July. Before then, four giant new cranes for T-5 are expected to arrive in June; their cross-Pacific journey began last weekend.
That’s a screengrab of the tracking map launched by the Northwest Seaport Alliance now that the four big new cranes for Terminal 5 are on their way to West Seattle. We reported two weeks ago that they were about to start their cross-Pacific voyage, and this afternoon, the NWSA announced the journey is under way. The super-post-Panamax cranes, 316 feet tall with 240-foot outreach booms, left Shanghai on Sunday aboard Zhen Hua 36, a vessel owned and operated by the cranes’ manufacturer, ZPMC. The trip is expected to take about a month and will be tracked here; the cranes belong to SSA Marine, first tenant for the modernized Terminal 5, scheduled to get back to regular cargo operations early next year.]
Remember that sighting off West Seattle two years ago, as four massive new cranes passed by on their way to Tacoma? As we’ve been reporting in our coverage of briefings on the Terminal 5 project, a similar sighting is expected soon – and this time West Seattle is the destination. Northwest Seaport Alliance project-team members have told local community groups that the cranes’ voyage would take about four weeks, and that they were expected to arrive in June, so we checked in today with NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh. She says the four new T-5 cranes, also made in China by ZPMC, are expected to ship out later this week, with arrival expected the week of June 14th. Stambaugh says NWSA will announce the departure and plans to track the cranes’ progress. The first of two berths at T-5 is expected to go into service next year.
Progress reports comprised most of this month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting:
BRIDGE UPDATES: Heather Marx, director of the West Seattle Bridge Safety Program, led the briefing. The schedule hasn’t changed – construction of repairs starting by year’s end, completion by “mid-2022.” As we reported a week and a half ago, they’re reviewing six applicants for the project, “and hope to have a decision we fan announce in May.” The next official schedule/budget update should be in “early July,” Marx added, Monitoring is still going well.
Seattle Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins announced today that he’s running for a second 4-year term. Calkins, who works as a business consultant, says economic recovery from the pandemic-caused hardships will be a priority. He lists job creation as a focus. His announcement also says he “is running to build on his commitment and track record as a climate champion and advocate for mitigation and cleanup in communities that have historically suffered the impacts of pollution, dislocation, and development.” Calkins, an Eastlake resident, holds Position 1 on the commission; so far no one else has registered a campaign for that seat. The formal filing period, however, isn’t until next month. Commissioners are elected in a countywide vote.
Three weeks ago, we reported that the pier at port-owned Jack Block Park in West Seattle [map] – closed for months because of safety concerns – might need to be rebuilt. Our report included the port’s promise that a survey would be launched to get the community’s thoughts about options. Today, that survey is open – starting here. It’s short, asking how often you visit the park, what you do there, and what you would consider important (or not); a potential new pier and/or new boardwalk are on the list. There’s also an open-ended question about what facilities and features you’d like to see. The survey will be open all month, and the port will come up with a proposal after that. Meantime, though the pier at the 15-acre park remains closed, the rest of the park is open, including the overlook with expansive views of Elliott Bay.
Another candidate has announced she’s running for Seattle Port Commission: Toshiko Grace Hasegawa, executive director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, has entered the race for Position 4, currently held by first-term Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck. Hasegawa’s announcement quotes her as saying, “I’m running in the wake of economic devastation because I have the values and the experience to meet the dire needs of this moment. The Port is uniquely positioned to be a model for bringing together industry, business, workers and communities to rebuild our economy and be better than it was before. I bring the necessary perspective and sense of urgency to ensure that the next rising tide will lift all of our ships.” The announcement explains that in her current role leading CAPAA, she “advises the Governor, State Legislature and other agencies on laws, programs, and policies impacting historically marginalized communities.” She also has worked as communications/outreach manager for King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight and as a legislative assistant to King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Her port priorities include “shaping an equitable economic recovery for our region, reducing pollution and carbon emissions from the Port; ensuring safety at the Port for all travelers and workers; and promoting clean & ethical supply chains to address the growing issue of labor trafficking and economic exploitation.” Hasegawa lives on Beacon Hill. Position 4 is one of three commission seats on this year’s ballot; the field won’t be finalized until May, and the primary is August 2nd.
James sent that photo, wondering about the status of the latest closure of that pier at Jack Block Park. Inquiring with the Port of Seattle (which owns and operates the park), we have learned that it isn’t going to reopen any time soon – and might even have to be rebuilt, according to port spokesperson Peter McGraw:
Deficiencies found in the most recent inspection of Jack Block Park pier in late 2020 led to closing the pier to the public out of an abundance of caution.
The Port’s goal is to address the present conditions of the pier, preserve public shoreline access and the open space public-use areas it provides; while balancing environmental, financial, and community stewardship goals of the Port of Seattle.
The Port is considering several potential park improvement alternatives to address the pier’s closure including its replacement, or shoreline and/or interior enhancements, and will be reaching out to communities and neighbors to gather input. Participation in the Jack Block Park survey will help inform the Port as to what current and potential park features are most important to users of the park.
Following survey analysis, the Port will host a virtual Open House outlining survey results and the proposed modifications for the Park. Stay tuned on further details later this month.
Those details will include how to participate in the survey, which isn’t open yet. The pier was closed in December, at least the third closure in a year and a half. The first of those closures, in 2019, was attributed to damage from an unidentified vessel hitting the pier. The rest of the park (which is at 2130 Harbor SW) remains open.
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:
In the week ahead, you have two chances to hear updates on the port:
TUESDAY: The Northwest Seaport Alliance managing members – aka port commissioners from Seattle and Tacoma – will get their quarterly briefing on the Terminal 5 project progress, delayed from last month (just before NWSA announced that the opening of T-5’s first modernized berth would be delayed until early next year). The meeting starts at 11:30 am Tuesday; the agenda, with viewing/listening/commenting info, is here, and the T-5 briefing documents are here.
WEDNESDAY: A Port of Seattle rep will be the guest at the District 1 Community Network‘s monthly meeting, online, 7 pm Wednesday. Community members are welcome to attend and participate. Videoconferencing and dial-in info is in our calendar listing.