Super big ship in port!

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, the new cooperative shipping operations between the Seattle and Tacoma ports, is hosting the Benjamin Franklin on a test call to see how well the region’s port infrastructure can handle the new larger container ships.

The largest container ship to ever visit the United States is docked at Terminal 18, near West Seattle.

The largest container ship to ever visit the United States is docked at Terminal 18, near West Seattle.

The Benjamin Franklin is 18,000 TEUs, the largest ship to ever come to the U.S.

Container ships are getting bigger, generally up to 10,000 TEUs from 6,000 ten years ago.

The visit is designed to show the future competitiveness of the ports as ship sizes increase.

To date, Terminal 18 is the only facility of the Seaport Alliance’s that can handle an 18,000 TEU container ship. Plans to upsize Terminal 15 are in the works.

The Benjamin Franklin will be unloading electronic goods from China and loading agricultural products from eastern Washington.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance ports are the third-largest container gateway in North America and its marine cargo operations support more than 48,000 jobs.


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Ultra large container ship in Puget Sound in February?

A new class of giant container ship pulled into the Port of Los Angeles this week—the largest ship ever to call on North America.


A new “big ship” arrived in California this week. Plans are underway to handle “big ships” simultaneously at ports on Puget Sound. (Photo credit: Port of Los Angeles)

The Northwest Seaport Alliance says it could check out Puget Sound—and dock at the Port of Seattle—sometime in February.

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin is 1,300 feet long, 177 feet wide and has the capacity of nearly 18,000 containers.

The News Tribune has the complete story about the ship’s sail up the West Coast.

An environmental review is underway on plans to get the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 “big ship ready.”

Plans call for the terminal to be able to handle two of the 18,000-container ships simultaneously – including heavier cranes and the ability to handle deeper drafts.

When the terminal went out of service last year, its capacity was one 6,000-container ship.

Test pile driving for the planned improvements is expected to start in January.

 “Upgrading Terminal 5 to handle larger vessels is critical to creating new maritime and industrial jobs for the region,” said Stephanie Bowman, co-president of the Port of Seattle, a partner in the alliance with the Port of Tacoma. “As part of our commitment to the community, we will carefully study the environmental impacts of the terminal improvements.”

The Northwest Seaport Alliance

The Northwest Seaport Alliance is off and running.


With a series of approvals by commissioners from the ports of Tacoma and Seattle on staffing, leasing and other arrangements, the historic alliance was formalized.

“This is about being relevant in a globally competitive market,” said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Dick Marzano. “We need to make this change for the economic growth of the region and to create family wage jobs.”

The alliance unifies the two ports’ marine cargo terminal investments, operations, planning and marketing to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo to the region.

While the ports remain separate organizations that retain ownership of their respective assets, they formed a port development authority (PDA) to manage the container, breakbulk, auto and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma.

The airport; cruise business; marinas, such as Fisherman’s Terminal; grain terminals and industrial real estate, such as the Northwest Innovation Works and Puget Sound Energy facilities and Terminal 91 uplands, will remain outside the alliance.


“Fierce competitors to bold collaborators” – Port of Tacoma Commission President Don Johnson and Port of Seattle Commission co-President Stephanie Bowman following today’s historic vote.

The PDA will be governed jointly by the two ports through their elected commissions.

The commissioners hired John Wolfe, current Port of Tacoma chief executive officer, as the CEO of The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Wolfe will lead both organizations through a transition period of up to five years.

The alliance launched its marketing and communications just after the final votes at Federal Way City Hall, and just prior to the first formal meeting of the commissions as an alliance. See

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Northwest Seaport Alliance being born

The Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma are preparing to take extraordinary steps over the next month to sustain and grow the region’s seaport economy.

NW Seaport Alliance

Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman and Port of Tacoma Commissioner Clare Petrich explain the emerging Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Commissions from both ports will meet at Federal Way City Hall tomorrow to review new draft resolutions, letters and other mechanics of creating a new Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The meeting will be streamed live here.

Agreement drafts released for public review yesterday are set to be finalized by both Commissions on June 5th, at Auburn City Hall, but not before seeking public feedback.

A draft letter to the Federal Maritime Commission underscores the importance of the new alliance:

“Not only is an alliance feasible, it is essential if the Pacific Northwest is to remain viable as a gateway in the future.  Our stakeholders, including our taxpayers, our customers and the workers whose jobs depend on robust maritime activity, need for this alliance to succeed.”

The Tacoma and Seattle ports today are the third-largest container gateway in North America – marine cargo operations support more than 48,000 jobs.

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Sea-Tac Airport experiencing ‘unprecedented’ growth

For the fourth straight year, Sea-Tac Airport is attracting a record number of passengers.

Passenger numbers at Sea-Tac are up 12 percent over last year.

Passenger numbers at Sea-Tac have increased 12 percent over the same time last year.

Along with construction cranes and traffic congestion, a busier airport is a sign of a booming regional economy.

More than 37.5 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2014 and that number is forecast to grow to 66 million by 2034.

Sea-Tac is now one of the nation’s fastest growing large hub airports.

More growth is expected. PSRC’s regional economic forecast shows the region can expect 28 percent more people and 40 percent more jobs by 2040.

On Thursday, Port of Seattle staff briefed the Transportation Policy Board on how the port is planning to accommodate that growth through its Sustainable Airport Master Plan effort.

Sea-Tac is the first large hub U.S. airport to incorporate sustainability into an airport master plan.

The plan assumes the airport will keep the current three runways, and will focus on new terminal development, roadway improvements, and facility modernization and expansion possibilities.

As the planning process develops, sustainability criteria will be used to develop and evaluate future alternatives for growth within three airport operational areas:  airfield, terminal, and landside (parking and roadways).

Over the next year, the Port will host a series of open houses throughout the region to share information and ask for public input on the master planning process. You can find out more on the Sustainable Airport Master Plan website.

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Seaport Alliance at Freight Mobility Roundtable

Freight shipments have been growing consistently nationwide since 2000, but Puget Sound market share has been decreasing during this time.

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have reached a joint operations agreement for marine cargo.

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have reached a joint operations agreement for marine cargo.

To combat this the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have planned a strategic collaboration known currently as the Seaport AllianceThis unification will create the third largest freight gateway in the United States, and will leverage resources to provide a more competitive response to rapidly changing dynamics in international imports and exports.  Formal agreements are currently being developed and are anticipated to be finalized by the end of March, with final approval by the Federal Maritime Commission anticipated by the end of June.

Additionally, the Roundtable heard from Pat Morin of WSDOT regarding the Seismic Retrofit program for key state infrastructure.

The seismic retrofit program identifies facilities that are a part of a “lifeline” approach to maintaining a baseline level of mobility for people and goods in the event of a 1000 year seismic event.  Currently, a minimum of $50 million is required to complete retrofits of the state’s highest priority bridges.  Significant investment is still required to retrofit the rest of the state’s transportation system.

Lastly, the Roundtable heard from Erika Harris of PSRC regarding the findings from the Industrial Lands Analysis.  All the findings and analysis are available in the draft report.

All the presentations are available on the Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable website.

Port commissions approve new Seaport Alliance

On Tuesday at Auburn City Hall, the commissions of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma voted unanimously to form the Seaport Alliance and join their marine cargo facilities.

Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners voted Tuesday to join marine cargo operations.

Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners voted Tuesday to join marine cargo operations.

A detailed agreement is expected to be worked out by March 31, 2015, and then submitted to the Federal Maritime Commission for final approval.

If approved, the new alliance will unite marine cargo facilities of the two ports and create the third largest container gateway in North America.

The Seaport Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets.

A recent report released by the two ports estimates that the ports combined are affiliated with $138.1 billion in economic activity in the state—one third of Washington’s GDP.

As the two ports seek to make their operations more competitive, they are calling on state lawmakers to pass a statewide transportation package to complete projects that improve freight movement on roadways, including fixes to SR 167 and SR 509.