Making safety and environmental improvements

Even with the departure of the Grand Alliance and Hamburg Sud lines for the Port of Tacoma, Seattle’s seaport remains a major container handler. Total TEUs, the twenty-foot equivalent units used to measure container traffic, were 1.6 million in 2013 (it was nearly 2.2 million in 2010, before the loss to Tacoma).

Port CEO Tay Yoshitani said in a prepared statement, “Sen. Murray has a long-term track record paving the way for federal infrastructure investments that benefit our economy. The news she received from U.S Department of Transportation about TIGER funding for the Port of Seattle is great news for the port and thousands of maritime sector jobs.”

Yoshitani said the grant would help ease congestion, while making safety and environmental improvements. “These terminal upgrades will not only keep jobs here, but allow for the growth of more family wage jobs at the Port of Seattle.”

Both Seattle and Tacoma face intense competitive pressure from other West Coast ports, especially Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C., as well as LA/Long Beach, all of whom have benefited from big infrastructure spending to modernize their ports and rail operations. There’s also the wider Panama Canal coming, which will allow some Asian shipping to bypass the West Coast entirely. Market share of the Puget Sound ports has been declining.

Consolidation of shipping lines is another challenge. The Journal of Commerce reported that CMA CGM, United Arab Shipping and China Shipping Container Line are preparing to announce a vessel-sharing agreement. While it is unclear how this will affect us, China Shipping and United Arab both call at Port of Seattle’s Terminal 30, operated by SSA Marine. CMA CGM calls at Terminal 18.

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