Ports of Tacoma & Seattle Form Alliance

It's all over the regional news today that the ports of Tacoma and Seattle have formed an alliance.

Over the last few months the two Puget Sound ports have been in private talks, which ultimately led to the new Seaport Alliance that will unify the management of the two ports' marine cargo terminals. 

Both ports face the same challenges/threats from both Canadian ports, which have the benefit of easy access for Asian ships; and the imminent opening of the Panama Canal, which will improve access to east coast ports, allowing some ships to bypass west coast ports altogether. The overarching goal of the new alliance is to attract and retain cargo traffic for the region.

The alliance, announced this Tuesday, will not be a merger of the two ports. Both will retain their individual Port Commissions, and independent ownership of assets. Instead, it marks an agreement between the two ports to collaborate to improve efficiencies and the competitiveness of the Puget Sound region as a maritime gateway.

The new Seaport Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing. The hope is that by working together the two ports can be more strategic in future growth and investments, developing a unified, more financially sustainable business model.

Before the alliance can become official, it will need the approval of the Federal Maritime Commission. With that approval, the two ports will work together in a due dilligence period, assessing business objectives, strategic marine terminal investments, financial returns, performance metrics, organizational structure, communications, and public engagement. A joint meeting of the two port commissions is planned for October 14, at which time they expect to formally adopt and move to submit the Inter Local Agreement to the FMC.

A public review of the proposal is also planned for the due dilligence period, with public meetings, and opportunities to submit your comments.

The cooperation between ports represents a major pivot from the long-standing Tacoma-Seattle rivalry to a new partnership, and suggests the seriousness of the threats facing both ports.

What do you think? Do you approve of the merger? And, to echo a question from Crosscut, is one of the two ports the bigger winner here?

Read more from in the Port of Tacoma press release.

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This is the structure necessary to accomplish what ultimately needs to be done:  Allow the Seattle terminals to focus on cruise ships and turn the Duwamish waterway area into what it wants to be anyway, an entertainment/sports/recreation district while directing 90% of cargo/container traffic to Tacoma.  Tacoma then can capitalize on what it should be, a shipping/working maritime city;  finally shucking its pulp mill town image and morphing into something that retains its gritty character while becoming a thriving 21st century city.

October 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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