The NWSA continues to post solid numbers with new infrastructure projects contributing to the gateway.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) ports of Tacoma and Seattle, like other Pacific Coast ports, posted a rebound in 2023 that has continued into the first quarter of this year.

The NWSA ended 2023 with full international imports and exports both marking their fourth consecutive month of volume growth. Exports continue to lead the way, reaching their highest level since March 2021. Import volumes year to date were in line with the overall market, while exports continued their recovery compared with 2022, ending the year in positive territory.

The roll continued into January of 2024. Full international imports and exports extended the months’ long growth streak with full imports increasing 1.7% and full exports increasing 19.6% over last year. Total International volumes grew 0.4% compared with last year. January container volumes reached 211,283 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with total volume decreasing 0.9% over January 2023. Domestic container volume decreased 4.9% January 2024 compared to January 2023. Alaska volumes decreased 6.5%, and Hawaii volumes increased 5.8%.

Perhaps the biggest news was Terminal 46 handling the February 2nd arrival of the Glovis vessel Silver Sky. The Ro/Ro ship was transporting a cargo of autos destined for Canada. The more than 2,500 plus vehicles, discharged at Terminal 46 in the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) gateway, will be shipped onward to Canadian KIA and Hyundai dealerships. The Silver Sky call represents the first automobile carrier to dock at the terminal in more than 20 years —and more importantly will give a big boost to the NWSA’s automobile business which was up 96% year-over-year in December 2023.

Over the past several years, Terminal 46 has played a critical role in providing available capacity for various cargo needs throughout the gateway. In response to post-pandemic containerized cargo surges, Terminal 46 evolved into a crucial near-dock storage facility, facilitating the seamless movement of containerized cargo.

Besides the Terminal 46 boost to the auto business, NWSA completed a number of important infrastructure projects and is closing in on completion of others.

Two all-electric super post-Panamax cranes and three hybrid RTG (rubber tire gantry) cranes arrived at Terminal 5 in the Seattle Harbor in December. The super post-Panamax cranes joined the four existing cranes currently in operation. Standing 316 feet tall with a boom outreach of 240-feet, the cranes are among the largest on the U.S. West Coast and will allow Terminal 5 to serve larger vessels, supporting containerized cargo growth and jobs for the region. Phase Two of the Terminal 5 Modernization Program is expected to be completed in Q1 2024. At full buildout, Terminal 5 will boast 185 acres with on-dock rail and an estimated 1.2 million TEUs of container-handling capacity.

Terminal 5 became our first international cargo terminal with operational shore power when the MSC Brunella plugged in last year.

The NWSA was awarded $54 million in grant funding from the 2023 Port Infrastructure Development Program. Funding will support the expansion of Husky Terminal in the Tacoma Harbor, further increasing the gateway’s global competitiveness and creating jobs. This builds upon the previous modernization of Husky Terminal that reconfigured the wharf and added eight super post-Panamax cranes to increase the terminal’s big ship handling capability.

Washington United Terminals (WUT) received two additional super post-Panamax cranes in June. The new ZPMC cranes boast a 24-wide container row reach, a lift above crane rail of 175 feet, and a lift capacity of 65 long-tons using a spreader and 100 long-tons with a cargo beam. The investment further expands on WUT’s capability to handle the larger vessels being deployed in the transpacific trade.

The NWSA also will receive $12 million to support the development of heavy-duty truck charging infrastructure. The shared electric-truck charging hubs will give drayage trucks gateway accessible charging locations to support the NWSA’s decarbonization efforts.

NWSA Managing Members approved $9 million in funding for the final design phase of the future shore power installation at Terminal 18 in the Seattle Harbor. This includes $1 million of grant funding through the Washington State Department of Ecology to be used toward the goal of decarbonizing and reaching the NWSA’s commitment to zero-emissions from maritime activities by 2050 or earlier.

The Puget Sound Zero Emission Truck Collaborative (‘the Collaborative’) was launched. It is a multi-stakeholder group including community, industry, government, and other stakeholders to work on producing a ‘Decarbonizing Drayage Roadmap’.

The roadmap will outline strategies and opportunities in getting to our goal of zero emission drayage by 2050 or sooner.