The Washington ports have proposed a draft final agreement that will create the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a new port development authority (PDA) which will cover governance, management and financial structures, a transition plan and business development strategy.
“We’ve got major issues here, folks, and we can’t afford to spend our way out of this unless it’s a coordinated strategy,” Don Meyer, Commissioner of the Port of Tacoma said.
Each port will contribute a reported $25.5 million to the alliance with the aim being to almost double cargo throughput form to 6 million TEU per annum by 2026, up from the current 3.4 million TEU.
“We are launching something that is critical to our future,” Courtney Gregoire, Commissioner for the Port of Seattle said, adding that the alliance was “a 21st century example of doing it right.”
Persistent pressure to lower costs and improve efficiencies, fuel costs and future growth were all cited as drivers for change by the port authorities as were the macro trends toward industry consolidation and increased use of the Panama and Suez canals.
“The ships in use today are more than double the capacity calling our ports just a few years ago, and many foresee demand for even larger ships in the near future. The ports of Tacoma and Seattle currently have limited capacity to handle these larger cargo carriers. We must work together to better coordinate investments to meet the changing industry needs,” a spokesperson for the Port of Tacoma commented.
The Port of Tacoma already green lighted a $9.16 million infrastructure improvement programme at the start of this year. The project includes extensive road re-surfacing with heavy duty concrete to allow increased truck traffic along with new traffic signals at the entrance to improve traffic flow.