By Meghan Hall
The Port of Seattle has embarked on numerous projects over the past several years in order to accommodate increasing numbers of travelers and trade opportunities. The port, which opened 20 years ago in 1998, once again topped one million cruise passengers in 2018, according to a recent press release. The port welcomed 1,114,888 revenue passengers through its cruise terminals in 2018, a four percent increase over 2017, according to that statement. As the port officials anticipate more growth in future years, they are actively working to invest $340 million into new cargo and cruise ship facilities under a plan called Waterfront 2040.
According to a report by the Puget Sound Business Journal, port officials have been working for over a year and a half on the effort, during which they consulted both Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and public private partnership consultants. The port budget just for those consulting services came in between $1 and $3 million, which will help the leadership in 2019 to evaluate the potential to redevelop the port’s cargo and cruise facilities, piers and marine terminals.
The port is also looking to add a fourth cruise ship berth near the T-30 or T-46 docks. The port is also looking into the possibility of adding an additional cruise ship berth in North Harbor. The exact location of the new berth has yet to be determined, however. Currently, cruise ships dock at Pier 66, which has one berth, and Pier 91, which has two.
Plans for a new T-5 facility — which if pursued would open in 2022 — were also part of the documents studied and would include a railway service on its docks. The proposed plans may also consolidate shipping container activities at the T-5 and T-18 cargo facilities.
The tentative plans come after the Port announced in June 2018 a proposal to deepen the East and West Waterways to 57 feet below mean lower low water in the Port of Seattle in order to accommodate larger container ship fleets. The Port of Seattle worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a feasibility study in 2014. A similar proposal has been submitted to widen the Blair and Sitcum waterways part of the Port of Tacoma. If authorized and funded, the projects will support an operating partnership of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle called the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is the fourth-largest container gateway in the United States.
Port officials did not return The Registry’s request for comment.