The Port of Everett, 25 miles north of Seattle, in February awarded nearly $25 million in construction contracts, launching the second phase of the port’s South Terminal Modernization project, the largest capital project in port history and at the time the largest marine construction project on the West Coast.

Included in the awards is a $24.5 million contract with Advanced American Construction to complete the South Terminal Wharf Strengthening and Electrical Upgrades (Phase II) and a $192,000 contract for relocation of the South Terminal Cargo Transit Shed. Construction got underway this month and is targeted for completion in December 2019.

With the help of the port’s 2% for public access policy, the project is generating $586,000 to the city of Everett to improve public access along the waterfront.

Glen Bachman, the port’s commission president, said it’s fitting that as the port observes its centennial year this year, “we continue to be forward thinking, preparing the port’s infrastructure to carry us into our next 100 years.”

Completing critical infrastructure upgrades better positions the port and its facilities to handle the larger vessels now calling Everett and accommodating the next generation of over-dimensional cargo on the horizon, including aerospace parts for the new 777X that began arriving at the port last month.

The parts arrive from Japan to the port’s deep-water shipping terminals. The port is the third-largest container port in Washington state and the region’s premiere breakbulk facility.

On a broader front, “any way you slice it, the West Coast is losing market share to the East Coast,” said Mike Moore, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association in San Francisco.

“Niche ports like Everett, by definition, you have to look at the niche they’re in and how you want to define niche ports,” he said. “They have their sweet spots they go after. They like to diversify as much as anybody else so they aren’t always in one niche basket.”

Each niche port has diversification plans. “They don’t want to have everything in one basket. Logs, for example, are very cyclical. But some of these ports rely on log exports. Gray’s Harbor was one of them. Logs are very cyclical,” he added, using Gray’s Harbor as an example, relying too much on logs.

“Gray’s Harbor’s cargo was so up and down it could go down to zero logs shipped one year and a couple of hundred in another year,” said Moore.

“If you look at each one of them, each has a different story. The Everett story also has stuff in it but it’s different than Gray’s Harbor, which is different than Olympia, which relies on a couple of things that give it a much smaller profile.”