December 27, 2021 2:30 PM, EST

Project at Port of Tacoma Aims to Relieve Congestion

Port of TacomaA container terminal at the Port of Tacoma. (Port of Tacoma)

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At the Port of Tacoma, leaders hope a new project to build added storage capacity for containers will help operations run more smoothly as ports across the West Coast are now facing a surge with activity resuming.

The port was recently awarded a $15.73 million grant through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) to help fund construction of new container storage on a 24-acre site of port-owned land.

The off-dock site will free up needed on-dock space at nearby terminals, and is expected to be completed by 2023.

As ports face congestion leading to stalls in the supply chain because of the pandemic, people have faced rising prices and shortages of products.

“The average person now is more acutely aware of supply chain problems and needs than they were a year and a half ago,” Port of Tacoma Commissioner John McCarthy told The News Tribune on Dec. 23.

McCarthy said that there’s been discussions over the past year around the need for added terminal space and that the new project is important for the port.

“What this does is gives us an ability to get the cargo off the terminals, to keep the supply chain moving better,” McCarthy told The News Tribune.

Dick Marzano, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission, said Dec. 23 that over the past several months the Northwest Seaport Alliance and partners have opened more than 60 acres of off-dock storage across Tacoma and Seattle to reduce congestion on marine terminals.

“The addition of off-dock storage capacity alleviates congestion on marine terminals and will help reduce the need for vessels to anchor in the Puget Sound,” Marzano said. That also means reduced air emissions as trucks spend less time facing time-consuming congestion.

As mountains of shipping containers have become highly visible to the public in the last few months, the new space will reduce the number of containers stored on marine terminals, but they’ll still be visible at the new site from surrounding roads.

Upon completion, the new site will have space for 1,260 20-foot containers, 121 reefer containers, 170 wheeled chassis, 195 block-stowed chassis and 100 wheeled-reefer stalls.

“While there is an immediate use for off-dock storage, the off-dock container facility will provide additional space for years to come,” Marzano said. “By storing empty containers, full refrigerated containers, and chassis on this property, goods will be able to move more efficiently through the supply chain, reducing the impacts of future congestion on our gateway.”

Marzano thanked U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith and Marilyn Strickland in a press release for their support in securing the grant.

“As we continue to see increasing levels of marine cargo activity at our port, it is imperative that we move forward with infrastructure projects like this in order to create and maintain family-wage jobs, improve supply chain efficiencies and lower air emissions by reducing truck congestion,” Marzano said. “This partnership and investment help ensure that the Port of Tacoma continues to serve as an important economic driver in our region.”

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