Home AEC Port of Seattle Commission Approves $5.3B in Five-Year Capital Plan

Port of Seattle Commission Approves $5.3B in Five-Year Capital Plan

Port of Seattle, Port of Seattle Commission, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Northwest Seaport Alliance, SEA Gateway, South King County Community Impact Fund, Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Puget Sound

By Kate Snyder

With a historic $5.3 billion investment into capital projects across the Port of Seattle’s aviation, maritime and economic development operations, the port’s five-year capital plan seeks to improve services, business and sustainability as port officials look toward what’s on the horizon in the near future. At the end of November, the Port of Seattle Commission gave final approval to the port’s 2023 budget and five-year capital plan. In total, the budget includes $953.7 million in operating revenues, $573.4 million in operating expenses and $380.3 million in net operating income before depreciation, according to public records.

“Local industries and the community need us to deliver more than ever before,” said Executive Director Steve Metruck. “This balanced budget and capital plan responds to regional needs with more essential services and programs, as well as historic new investments that deliver in the short term and long term for people and the planet.”

The total capital budget proposed for 2023 is $725.8 million, and capital projects will continue to be the largest category of port spending. In 2023, capital spending will make up 39 percent of the port’s budget and possibly up to 43.5 percent with the Northwest Seaport Alliance projects, which includes the new international arrivals facility and the modernized maritime container Terminal 5. At the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, capital projects include improvements to the terminal and concourses through the SEA Gateway program, the completion of Terminal 5, C concourse expansion and baggage modernization. The budget will also provide $276.4 million for terminal modernization and environmental sustainability projects of the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Port of Seattle Commission President Ryan Calkins believes now is the time for the port to be in “an inquisitor mode” while looking to the future. There’s a sense that maritime is maxed out in major cities, he said, but as the country continues to work out ways to address climate change, maritime services will be needed, whether by supporting sustainable fisheries or wind farms located off the coast or by transporting more goods over water rather than by air or land. He also noted that, “in periods of change, those who can adapt quickly fare best,” and highlighted the need to continue making strides on initiatives like modernizing the airport.

“We’re pretty bullish on both the maritime and aviation side,” Calkins said. “As the principal airport for the Pacific Northwest, we need to optimize our footprint.”

The increase in reinvestments into the port’s business is partly because of an increase in travel – airport passenger volume rose to nearly 90 percent of 2019 record levels while cruise ship passenger volume exceeded historic highs by six percent, according to information from the Port. The new international arrivals facility and Terminal 5 contributed to the increased activity. At the same time, however, the Port and its partners face challenges from severe inflation, international conflict, supply chain issues, a tight labor market, surging travel, increased trade demand and climate change impacts.

Other items in the 2023 budget include an additional $2.5 million in community initiatives, for a total of $19.1 million, such as workforce development, the South King County Community Impact Fund, diversity in contracting programs, Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and tourism marketing support for Washington state’s smaller destinations. The budget also includes $4.9 million for a multi-year contract to increase airport customer service support, $1.3 million to support the delivery of sustainable aviation fuel to the airport and advocacy to incentivize greater production and deployment and $1 million toward maritime industries and habitat conservation education.