West Seattle, Washington
(January 2015 photo of Terminal 5 by Long Bach Nguyen)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Just one week after a new promise that a tenant for Terminal 5 would be announced “soon” – we know who’s moving in.
And that news opens the door for the modernization project to begin; the city has just granted the permits.
A briefing is set to start at 11:30 am at the Northwest Seaport Alliance‘s managing-members’ (Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners) meeting at Sea-Tac Airport – you can watch the stream here.
First, the toplines. The last major tenant at Terminal 5, Westwood, moved out in 2014. The port and the NWSA have been planning the modernization project and seeking a tenant. From the announcement that’s being made today:
… The investments in Terminal 5 will be coordinated with the proposed new tenant, Stevedoring Services of America Terminals (SSAT) and Terminal International Limited (TIL Group). The proposal calls for a new 32-year lease with these two terminal operators, which together are in partnership with several of the world’s largest ocean carriers.
To support the Phase I construction schedule for Terminal 5 modernization, estimated to begin this Spring and be completed by 2021, the Port Commissioners will be considering a realignment of marine cargo in the Seattle Harbor. Specifically:
Matson’s Hawaii service moves from T-30 to the South berth of T-5 in Spring 2019.
International marine cargo would be re-assigned to the Terminals 18 & 5, beginning with the current customer at T-46, TTI, moving to T-18.
This presents the opportunity to use Terminal 46 for other project and break-bulk cargo, and relocating Seattle-based Foss Maritime, to this terminal. The Port of Seattle Commission is also studying using approximately 29 acres of the 86-acre Terminal 46 could be accommodate a cruise berth to meet the demand for Alaskan cruise industry, which is a growing business in Seattle. …
Foss has been an interim tenant at T-5.
Port commissioners are expected to take final action on the newly unveiled plan on February 26th.
1ST ADD: We talked this morning with Seattle Port Commissioner Fred Felleman, in advance of the briefing/meeting. First, what’s been a big issue for many West Seattleites looking ahead to the modernization project: No, the deal does not require ships to use shore power while berthed at T-5. But it will be shore-power capable, and he contends that will be attractive to shippers for financial as well as environmental reasons, since electricity here is relatively cheap.
He also notes that the new plan basically consolidates many freight operations at the two on-dock-rail-equipped terminals, 5 and 18 (which is on Harbor Island), which makes a dent in truck traffic. The port’s requirement for newer, cleaner trucks is already in place. And Felleman noted another port program that is making it possible for trucks to get in and out more efficiently, an economic benefit to drivers as well as an efficiency enhancement regarding traffic. And the T-5 project will come with a railroad “quiet zone,” as previously reported.
On another environmental point – Felleman notes that, with a background as a whale biologist, he shares the newly intensified concern about shipping noise and its effect on marine life including the Southern Resident Killer Whales. He is hopeful that fewer – though larger – ships will have less of a noise impact, though he acknowledges that research hasn’t verified that yet.
While the new T-5 tenants have partnerships with shipping alliances that already call in local ports, Felleman says they expect there will be a net increase in jobs.
2ND ADD, BRIEFING UPDATES, STARTING AT 12:24 PM: We are now at the NWSA meeting briefing on this, which is happening in the conference center at Sea-Tac. (Looks like the feed is up and running here.) The first slide deck they’re going through is here, and it begins with toplines from the report unveiled last week at T-18, regarding regional cargo-shipping economic impact.
Preceding this, it was reiterated that final action on this is three weeks away and the commissioners want to hear from the public. NW Seaport Alliance CEO John Wolfe called this “an exciting day” as they unveil the T-5 details, and noted that along with the port’s $340 million capital investment, there are two phases of private-sector investment totaling $250 million, “overall investment of half a billion dollars.”
Speaking of money:
12:20 PM: Four and a half years after Terminal 5‘s last major tenant left, we’re still waiting to hear word of a new tenant. Last fall, the projection was that there’d be an announcement before year’s end. Now, one month into the new year, the new estimate is “soon” – as in, before the end of the first quarter. So said Clare Petrich, Tacoma Port Commissioner speaking on behalf of the Northwest Seaport Alliance partnership, as NWSA released a new report about the value of the maritime business to our state. Plans for upgrading T-5 have been awaiting news of a tenant. Among the other speakers at the report’s unveiling was Seattle Port Commissioner Fred Felleman, who declared the report to be evidence of a “renaissance” in the maritime business. He, Petrich, Dan McKisson from the ILWU, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (who toured a dock crane first) all spoke during today’s announcement at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island. We’ll add video when it’s ready, and a few more details from the report later; you can see the report in its entirety here (PDF).
4:05 PM: Here’s our video:
The report focuses very specifically on the impact of cargo shipping. Petrich noted that 90 percent of the world’s trade is done by water. One of the notable breakout charts in the report:
Here’s the NWSA news release with other highlights.
An FYI from Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw:
The THORCO ROYAL will be berthed at Terminal 5 in West Seattle for about three weeks starting tomorrow (Friday) to undergo vessel repairs prior to returning to sea.
It will be berthed from mid-dock (1500 foot mark) north to about the 2200 foot mark. There will not be any cargo activities associated with its layberthing at T-5.
MarineTraffic.com shows the cargo ship is already in West Seattle, currently at a dock on the Duwamish River.
Though a tenant has yet to be announced, the modernization plan for Terminal 5 in West Seattle is moving forward. The Northwest Seaport Alliance – the partnership of the Seattle and Tacoma ports – approved a 2019 budget today, and T-5 plans factor heavily into the announcement, which mentions “final negotiations with a potential tenant”:
At today’s special dual meeting, the Managing Members of The Northwest Seaport Alliance adopted a budget for 2019 as well as a five-year capital investment plan. The budget and investment plan allow for terminal modernization to accommodate larger vessels and retain a competitive position in the global marketplace. The budget also includes environmental and business development investments.
“With the adoption of this budget, we are sending a clear message to the industry and our communities that The Northwest Seaport Alliance is working,” said Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of the NWSA. “It allows us to make transformative investments in our harbors so we are competitive in the global marketplace, attracting jobs and retaining the economic vitality of the Pacific Northwest.”
“Now in its third year, The Northwest Seaport Alliance remains strong,” said Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission vice president and co-chair of the NWSA. “Our partnership with the Port of Seattle is good not only for our local communities but for manufacturers and farmers across the nation. This budget ensures the alliance will continue to benefit our region well into the future.”
Planned capital improvements take the NWSA one step closer to transforming Seattle’s Terminal 5 into a premier international container facility on the West Coast. The Managing Members passed a motion authorizing CEO John Wolfe to prepare a lease, bidding documents and a request for construction funds for the necessary upgrades. Final negotiations with a potential tenant are currently underway.
Improvements to T-5 will include dock and power upgrades and berth deepening to handle the world’s largest cargo ships. Currently, T-5 can handle vessels with a capacity of up to 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), but shipping lines are now investing in vessels with 18,000 TEU capacity or greater.
Once complete, T-5 will have a capacity of a 3 million TEUs annually.
Modernizations at T-5 bring environmental benefits as well, allowing creosote-treated wooden piles to be replaced with a panelized fender system and increasing the electrical capacity of the terminal for quieter, cleaner operations.
A negotiated lease and a request to initiate construction are expected to come to the Managing Members for approval in the first quarter of 2019.
Port reps had previously said that news of a T-5 tenant was likely before this year was out (most recently, when Seattle Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins spoke to the WS Chamber of Commerce two months ago). More than four years have passed since the last cargo-line tenant left T-5. Meantime, you can see the draft 2019 budget by going here. (We’re still reading through it for the financing specifics.)
UPDATED WEDNESDAY, 10:03 AM: NWSA says its estimate of T-5 volume was an error and so we have added a strikethrough above – they’ve removed it from their release, which you can see in its entirety here.
The ship that called at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to pick up hundreds of pieces of U.S. Army equipment has left for South Korea. Thanks to Andrw for the tip; the vehicle carrier MV Green Cove left last night. While its destination information on MarineTraffic.com had displayed as simply “Far East” earlier in the day, it was listed a day earlier as bound for Busan, second-most-populous city in South Korea. The Port of Seattle had circulated advance word of the shipment plan earlier this month, and cargo like this caught eyes in the T-5 vicinity:
Thanks to Richard for that photo from last Saturday. The port said the shipments were being handled by its interim T-5 tenant Foss.
Thanks to Jim for the video. As seen on the rails behind Chelan Café this morning, that’s a closer look at some of the military equipment moving through Terminal 5 right now. As described by a Port of Seattle spokesperson, it’s part of “U.S. Army equipment, supplies, and provisions … part of a scheduled unit rotation of U.S. Forces to Korea,” being handled by Foss as part of its interim lease at T-5. Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins told the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that the shipments are primarily from Texas.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As military equipment was unloaded at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 today, the long-underutilized dock’s future was discussed nearby.
One of the newest members of the Port of Seattle Commission, Ryan Calkins, was the guest speaker at the annual “State of the Port” lunch presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce at port-owned Jack Block Park.
He was introduced by the Chamber’s board chair, Pete Spalding of Verity Credit Union (WSB sponsor), extolling the attributes of the park (whose namesake, the West Seattle-residing former port commissioner, was in attendance).
Calkins described himself as a small-business owner – saying that he used to own a business in Georgetown, sold it before running, but still has an interest in a business in Wallingford. He acknowledged that West Seattle is in the heart of both the benefits and impacts of the port. His wide-ranging speech, followed by Q&A, touched a variety of topics, including T-5.
Thanks for the tips. The Port of Seattle confirms it has been notifying community members about a military resupply operation that’ll be happening at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 in the next few weeks. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw explains:
Foss Maritime, through its lease with the Northwest Seaport Alliance, is mustering U.S. Army equipment, supplies, and provisions at Terminal 5, as part of a scheduled unit rotation of U.S. Forces to Korea. The military equipment is arriving via train and truck at Terminal 5 and is expected to ship in the next couple of weeks. There will be approximately 800 pieces of equipment, none of it munitions, including oversized cargo such as tanks as part of the vehicles.
Utilizing Terminal 5 allows all parties to gain operational experience and training in the event we must use the terminal because of a regional emergency, like a major earthquake. Moves such as this occur with regular frequency though NWSA South Harbor (Port of Tacoma) facilities.
McGraw adds that a “non-military vessel” related to this operation is due in next week. If you have a question, the port says you can take it to Nick Demerice, Director of Public Affairs for the Northwest Seaport Alliance, at 253-428-8624 or firstname.lastname@example.org. T-5, meantime, remains slated for future modernization, once a new tenant is found; the next public update on that is likely to be at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s “State of the Port” lunch (11:30 am September 13th at Jack Block Park – here’s how to register).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
On a morning when rain was busily washing the air clean, the Port of Seattle hosted an event in West Seattle to talk about progress in reducing air pollutants related to maritime industry.
The occasion: The newest report from the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum, described in the announcement as “a committee of seven ports, six government agencies, and three industrial partners” (most listed here). They first started tracking maritime-related emissions in 2005, and the report shows some major decreases.
To showcase the newest results of the every-five-years study – the Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory – the port invited media to the Terminal 5 administration building to hear from reps of many participating organizations and to see examples of what’s being used to take less of a toll on the local air.
Those examples included semi-trucks powered with alternative fuel (top photo) and jars showing the dark heavy-oil fuel that’s declining in use, next to lighter fuel whose use is on the rise:
Opening the event, Seattle Port Commission president Courtney Gregoire described the report as “good news.”
She says it’s a “voluntary effort” that launched more than a decade ago. It “informs our strategy about future investments” among other things, and she says it is a reminder that “climate change is real.” This is the third inventory since 2005. The international standard for fuel has factored into it.
This is the first one that has tracked “black carbon” though it doesn’t remain in the atmosphere for long. And she says it shows good news though what they’re serving has grown, including the Seattle cruise boom. “It comes with a cost,” of course, she notes.
You might have noticed two sizable ships in at West Seattle’s Terminal 5. Turns out both are there after trouble at sea. The 961-foot container ship MOL Prestige arrived about two weeks ago after an engine-room fire off the British Columbia coast. And over the weekend, the 653-foot bulk carrier Federal Iris arrived after losing power off the Oregon coast. Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw confirmed to WSB that both are being handled by Foss Maritime, “under a license agreement with the NW Seaport Alliance.” The Prestige, he says, “is still undergoing inspections, and is expected to depart around March 15th,” while the Iris is also being inspected and likely to leave by the end of this week – both departure dates, McGraw cautions, are estimates.
What you see on the barge in our photo above are hundreds of creosote-treated pilings removed from the north end of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 in West Seattle. We reported back in October that the removal was about to begin, as explained in this document. This morning, the port invited news media to T-5 for an update.
So far, the port says, 2,300 pilings have been removed; back in 2000, the port had an estimated 18,000 of them, and with this and other removal operations, they are down to 8,000. As the port news release explains:
Creosote-treated pilings and timbers were used for more than 100 years throughout Puget Sound, as fundamental structural elements in marine cargo and transportation infrastructure. Present-day marine facility piers and docks have replaced creosote construction with inert steel and concrete pilings, and in many cases fender systems requiring no piling have been installed.
The show-and-tell today also included an underwater camera nicknamed Ringo, used in the removal operation:
This part of the cleanup operation also involves restoration of more than four acres of habitat. The importance of the continuing restoration and cleanup was underscored by James Rasmussen of the nonprofit Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition:
Port commissioner Fred Felleman, who has a decades-long background in marine conservation, spoke as well:
And state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz was there.
The $6.8 million pilings-removal project has a state angle, as noted in our October report – this part of the cleanup was related to the termination of a state lease more than a decade ago.
Our October report also included details on exactly how the pilings were to be removed. They are to be barged up the Duwamish River to the Waste Management facility, from which they will be sent to the Columbia Ridge landfill in Oregon for permanent disposal.
(2015 photo of Terminal 5, by Long Bach Nguyen)
Still no new tenant for West Seattle’s Terminal 5, but another permit has been granted for its potential expansion/redevelopment. The Port of Seattle sent word today that it’s received the “shoreline substantial development permit” for the project – you can see the permit document here.
As for what’s happening currently at T-5 – which continues to see some activity, three and a half years after its official closure as a cargo terminal – the port confirms that Foss Maritime continues to lease space. You’ve probably noticed the heavy-lift ship Ocean Jazz there in recent weeks; port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells us it’s been there awaiting its next assignment, and is expected to head back to sea soon. It’s part of the Military Sealift Command, as are other vessels that have berthed there.
UPDATED 1:51 PM: Just approved as the new Port of Seattle executive director, during today’s ongoing Port Commission meeting (here’s the live stream): Retired Rear Admiral Stephen P. Metruck. He retired from the U.S. Coast Guard last year after 34 years. His background includes three years as the USCG’s captain of Sector Seattle, 2005-2008. The executive director position is the top appointed leadership position at the Port, renamed after the departure of former CEO Ted Fick. The commission vote was unanimous.
ADDED 1:58 PM: Metruck will start work February 1st and be paid $350,000 a year, according to the official port news release we’ve just obtained: Read More
That’s HMCS Yellowknife, one of two Royal Canadian Navy coastal-defense vessels that you’ll see at West Seattle’s Terminal 5 through the weekend, according to Peter McGraw of the Port of Seattle:
Flexi Floats will be installed today, after which the vessels will be rafted alongside one-another, in the northern half of the wharf, just north of the geared ship OCEAN JAZZ, LOA 530′, and south of the Crowley barge DBL 289, which is 289 feet long.
South of the OCEAN JAZZ is the Foss barge SEATTLE with LOA 300′. The barges are awaiting their next dispatch and will not load or discharge cargo.
Both of the Canadian vessels are passing south Whidbey Island right now, according to MarineTraffic.com. Speaking of military vessels – water-watchers can expect to see the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) passing West Seattle southbound on Sunday morning, headed back to Bremerton post-deployment.
5:04 PM: A $6.8 million Port of Seattle project to remove 2,000 creosote pilings from the north end of Terminal 5 is about to start. Port commissioner John Creighton mentioned it in his “State of the Port” speech to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce last month, and port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells WSB it’s about to begin:
he Port of Seattle will remove more than 2,000 creosote treated piles and 5,000 sq. ft. of overwater coverage from Elliott Bay, off the north end of Terminal 5, beginning this week.
The port has worked with the EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State departments of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Muckleshoot and Duwamish Tribes to plan and execute removal of the piles/overwater cover. The work is being done in advance of a Superfund cleanup project being undertaken by the Lockheed Martin Company in the same area.
Removal of the piles is required as part of a lease termination agreement with the Department of Natural Resources.
Through 2016 the port has removed 11,420 creosote treated piles and is on track to remove 80 percent of all creosote treated piles from port-owned facilities by 2026.
The Terminal 5 pile removal project is expected to be completed by the end of March, 2018.
There’s more backstory in this document from a Port Commission meeting back in June, and we have followup questions out about exactly how the pilings will be removed and disposed of.
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: Port spokesperson McGraw has answered those questions with information from the contractor’s Demolition Work Plan – read on for the details: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This year’s keynoter was port commmissioner John Creighton, speaking solo before taking questions. He is running for re-election in November after 12 years on the commission.
Sound Transit 3, approved by voters last November, was the topic that started his speech, as he noted that the commission unanimously approved a resolution to support it. “The more people you get out of cars and into transit, the better for freight mobility,” he explained. (But, he joked, his enthusiasm was a bit dampened when he got his car-tab bill last week “and it went up $500.”) He noted that since “part of the alignment goes through port property,” they’ll be “watching it closely.”
He also mentioned the port’s recent $10 million contribution to the Lander Street Bridge project, and what it’s given to other parts of the corridor. “We’re trying to be more comprehensive in our dealings with the city and planning with the city.” He believes the relationship “will help the region going forward.”
Then on to Terminal 5, the still-shuttered-and-awaiting-modernization West Seattle port property next to the park:
(Slide deck shown for T-5 update at this week’s meeting)
No tenant yet for Terminal 5 in West Seattle – but port commissioners took steps this week to get closer to readiness for the modernization project they’ll launch if and when one is signed.
One intriguing question was debated toward meeting’s end – Could, and should, the port pursue a “railroad quiet zone” even before, or without, signing a tenant? Specifically, commissioner Fred Felleman wondered whether it would be the right thing to do for the community.
Currently, the “quiet zone” is a condition that will have to be met for the modernized T-5, but train horns long have been a vexing issue for nearby residents, particularly on Pigeon Point. (Here’s one story we published in 2008, which also includes a summary of what a “quiet zone” entails.)
Before voting on what port staff called an “important milestone” in getting ready for T-5 modernization, three years after the terminal was closed, they got a briefing on where things stand.
(2015 photo of T-5 by Long Bach Nguyen)
They were told that an area resident’s appeal of the “shoreline substantial development” permit was settled a week and a half ago. The appeal, staff said, was mostly focused on concerns about construction noise, especially pile driving. The settlement includes a promise not to pile-drive on Sundays and federal holidays.
The building permit could be “essentially ready to go” in as little as a month and a half, as the result of other agreements approved by commissioners, with other parties including two tribes. If the tribes have no further issues, the Army Corps of Engineers could issue a permit within about a month.
Commissioners wondered whether the permits might be getting issued too soon, considering there’s no tenant, and asked how long they would be good for. Reply: Seven years in all – they would have three years to start the construction, then three years to complete it with up to a year’s extension.
As for the “quiet zone,” that process is starting early, port staff said, because “to be blunt, we have to deal with Burlington Northern, and they are very safety conscious.” While the port is agreeing to cover the $5 million cost, it was explained that the permits would be sought by SDOT, while the railroad “helps design and will actually implement it.”
So, the question then came up, would the “quiet zone” be built if there’s no T-5 tenant?
No, was the reply, “because it’s a condition” of the T-5 project. “We’re not building anything without a tenant.” But – it was clarified at that point – it COULD be built without a tenant. And that’s when Felleman suggested considering whether there might be “community benefit” no matter what.
After the commissioners voted to approve everything brought before them regarding T-5 – see the agenda items, with documents linked, here – they got budget updates, including a mention that interim uses of T-5, including military ships that have spent time there in the past few months (the Military Sealift Command ship Sgt. Matej Kocak and the recently seen Missile Defense Agency radar ship SS Pacific Tracker), have brought in about $1 million. The decommissioning of cranes at T-5, meantime, has been delayed. Next year’s budget timetable was mentioned – a public hearing on the Seattle-specific budget is planned November 14th, wth adoption November 28th.
(We monitored this meeting, held at Sea-Tac Airport, via its livestream on Tuesday. The archived video is not yet available online.)
TERMINAL 5 MODERNIZATION: While port reps have said recently that there’s no tenant yet for an expanded Terminal 5 in West Seattle, tomorrow’s NWSA meeting includes authorization for actions related to the “modernization” project, which could be authorized for construction as soon as November if there’s a tenant commitment by then. The items on tomorrow’s agenda include raising the spending authorization to $25.4 million, with authorization/funding of $5.2 million for “planning, design, and construction of a railroad quiet zone” near T-5. The agenda item also includes agreements with the city for closing West Marginal Way SW north of Spokane in the future, and an Air Quality Management Program, as well as agreements with two tribes. Here’s the slide deck:
Other documents are downloadable from the agenda.
PORT TRUCK BACKUP RELIEF: The commissioners will be asked to authorize spending up to $2 million to “expand gate hours at … international terminals during the 2017 peak season,” which, according to the agenda memo, starts in August and continues through December. NWSA/port reps talked about the backups at last week’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (WSB coverage here).
MEETING INFO: The aforementioned items are on the part of tomorrow’s agenda that is scheduled to start at 11:30 am Tuesday at the Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center, with a public-comment period before the action items.
(2015 photo by Don Brubeck)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When port-bound trucks clog routes leading to shipping terminals, who’s ultimately accountable for clearing them, and preventing future problems?
That was part of what was explored in depth during port reps’ visit last night to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which also reviewed key points made by participants in its June workshop about light-rail routing.
PORT TRUCKS: As they had done at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting, operations executive Zachary Thomas from the Northwest Seaport Alliance and Port of Seattle communicator Mick Shultz talked, and answered questions, about the truck traffic.
Thomas explained again about how the shifting alliances in the shipping business had led to the “additional volume (for) some terminals” and less for others. The “general shift of volume from Tacoma to Seattle” led to a 40 percent increase in volume at Terminal 18 on the east side of Harbor Island at one point this spring, Thomas said, noting that similar changes were happening around the world at the same time, “massive changes” that meant “for the first two to four weeks of the new alliance(s) … the vessels were just all over the place.” (Terminal 46, further north, didn’t see any change, though.)
At the time of that volume increase, “you would have seen a lot of trucks, no doubt about it.” The terminal operator, SSA, did take action in response to what was going on, Thomas said – though not enough to prevent backups. So that led to some grilling on who could have and should have done more.
(Photo from 2015 pre-parade float procession out of West Seattle)
We’ve been mentioning all week that the northbound Alaskan Way Viaduct will be closed for a while Saturday evening for the return of the Seafair Torchlight Run, before the downtown parade (which is NOT on The Viaduct). There’s one other way you might be affected – though we don’t have official comment from Seafair, “no parking” signs along both sides of Harbor Avenue SW indicate that the parade floats will again be traveling to/from, and stored at, Terminal 5 before Saturday night’s parade, as has been done in in past years. South of the Harbor Ave. gate to the port facility, the signs on the south/eastbound side prohibit parking 2 am-10 am Saturday morning, while north/westbound signs prohibit parking 7 pm Saturday night-2 am Sunday morning. The past few years, the floats have headed out around 8 am Saturday, but pending an official response from Seafair, we don’t yet know this year’s schedule.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:19 PM SATURDAY: Remember six years ago, when the bulbous SBX was a floating fixture here for a few months? Tonight, another missile-defense radar vessel is visiting West Seattle – the SS Pacific Tracker. It and the SBX are both featured in this 2014 roundup of “The Wild Radar Ships That Make Missile Defense Possible.” Thanks to Paul Nicholson for today’s tip and photo; the Northwest Seaport Alliance schedule shows the Pacific Tracker scheduled to be in port in Seattle until Monday; MarineTraffic.com shows it berthed right now at Terminal 5. MT also shows it came here from Honolulu; it and another missile-defense ship were reported to be there last month “after participating in a first-of-its-kind test intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile target high over the Pacific on May 30.”
MONDAY UPDATE: Port spokesperson Peter McGraw tells us it’ll be here about a week: “It’s taking on some provisions for the crew, fuel and water. It may have some light maintenance performed, as well.”
(Photo by Scott Sweeney, from WSB coverage of January 2015 truck-traffic backup on westbound bridge)
According to the port, its terminal operators say they are ready to handle it – but just in case, here’s what you might call an advance traffic alert, from a flyer sent this morning by the Port of Seattle, on behalf of its joint venture with the Port of Tacoma:
The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) expects to see changes in truck volumes at several of its container terminals in the coming months. These changes may affect local traffic.
What is expected?
The NWSA expects a reduction in truck volumes at Washington United Terminals in Tacoma. At the same time, the NWSA is expecting a significant growth in truck volumes at Terminal 18 in Seattle and a modest increase at Husky Terminal in Tacoma. These shifts in truck volumes are expected to occur later this month and peak in early- to mid-May.
Why is this happening?
Over the last several years, ocean carriers have formed alliances to better utilize their collective
assets to manage costs in light of weak market conditions. In April, the members of these alliances are set to reshuffle, creating three major alliances engaged in the trans-Pacific trade instead of the previous four.
The new alliance configurations mean changes at which terminals the different carriers and their alliances call. This will likely mean corresponding changes in truck traffic at these various terminals.
What is the NWSA doing about this?
The NWSA is working closely with terminal operators to ensure they do everything practical to manage their operations to minimize truck backups at their gates. Terminal operators assure the NWSA that they are prepared to handle these changes.
NWSA staff continue to encourage our tenants to consider a variety of options at their disposal including, but not limited to, extended gate hours, appointment systems and other operational tools.
Over the long-term, the NWSA continues to explore opportunities for gate redesigns, expanded truck staging facilities and off-dock container yards that could help. These infrastructure investments are expensive and will take time to fund and develop.
Terminal 18 is on the east side of Harbor Island, as shown on this map of Port of Seattle terminals.
The city’s latest Land Use Information Bulletin brings notice of one more approval for the port’s Terminal 5 modernization project – this time, from the state Department of Ecology, allowing installation of a sheet pile wall as part of the project. This comes two weeks after key city approvals for the project, and it means the clock is ticking for anyone interested in appealing these approvals – the latest notice says you have until May 4th, and explains how. The port, meantime, has not yet finalized how it will fund the project, but is expected to make that decision later this year.