NWSA Breaks Ground on Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 Project


Published Jul 11, 2019 8:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, the Northwest Seaport Alliance broke ground on the $500 million modernization project for Port of Seattle's Terminal 5, part of a broader overhaul of the Puget Sound area's terminal configuration. The new T5 will have the depth alongside and the cargo handling capacity to accommodate two 18,000 TEU ULCVs at one time. Container vessels in the 14,000 TEU size range regularly call in Seattle and Tacoma today, and the revamped T5 will make the ports "big ship ready" for the next generation of boxships. 

“Four years ago this August, our two ports announced the joining of our operations in order to better compete on a global scale. Today is proof that we made the right decision as our efforts here at Terminal 5 provide us new opportunities for cooperation and the creation of family-wage jobs,” said Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of NWSA.

The 185-acre Terminal 5 has been unused since 2014, and the revamp will put the land back to work for maritime uses, not commercial or residential development. “ILWU Local 19 understands the importance of keeping container operations thriving in this region—thousands of families depend on these maritime and industrial assets—and how critical it is to work together to ensure these assets continue to provide for our region. We must maintain these finite resources for industrial use,” said Rich Austin, the president of ILWU Local 19. The NWSA estimates that Terminal 5's activity will result in 6,600 new direct jobs and more than $2 billion in business activity.

The NWSA's members voted to fund the project in April, pledging $340 million in construction funds. Concession operator SSA Terminals will contribute up to another $160 million toward the project. The facility is expected to open in two phases, with one berth ready to handle cargo in the spring of 2021 and the second berth ready in 2023.

As part of the realignment, the Port of Seattle is also closing Total Terminals International's T46, just south of the downtown core, and will use the space to build a cruise terminal and a multipurpose cargo terminal. T46's activity will shift to SSA Marine-operated T18, located on Harbor Island.