Port of Tacoma announces new terminal deal

The Port of Tacoma announced today it plans to build a $300 million, 168-acre container terminal scheduled to open in 2012.

The $300 million container terminal being built by SSA Marine and the Puyallup Tribe is a separate project, but the two terminals are nearly adjacent on the east side of the Blair Waterway, said Mike Wasem, spokesman for the Port of Tacoma.

The Port intends to lease the new terminal to Yusen Terminal Tacoma, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based NYK Line, for 25 years.

NYK Line shares a common terminal at the Port of Seattle, but this is the first terminal in the Pacific Northwest that it'll operate on its own.

The new terminal will increase trade capacity by 1.4 to 1.8 million 20-foot containers, or TEUs, each year. It is expected to create 3,000 construction jobs and 3,200 jobs in Washington once the terminal opens.

The last container terminal opened in January 2005, and since then, there has been increased interest in the developing at the Port of Tacoma, said Tim Farrell, executive director at the Port of Tacoma.

Land availability is key to the Port's growth, as there are no conflicts with residential or non-industrial uses when it comes to developing land. The waterways at the Port are deep and wide enough to accommodate some of the largest ships in the world, said Wasem.

Farrell said he expects container volume in the Puget Sound region to continue growing. When asked if there were plans to build any more terminals, he replied, "We have our hands full now."

The Port is focusing on getting this terminal, designed, permitted and constructed.

Peter Keller, president of the NYK Line North America, said NYK's two anchors for Transpacific trade were in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest. NYK operates its own facility at the Port of Los Angeles, but was looking to open another terminal elsewhere. The company looked up and down the West Coast, Canada and Mexico, but finally settled on the Port of Tacoma.

"The Port of Tacoma offers growth capacity, a robust road and rail system and strong community support," Keller said. "Seattle really doesn't have the space."

Bibeka Shrestha: 206-515-5632 or bshrestha@seattletimes.com