Inside Opinion

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Tag: Grand Alliance


With port on an even keel, keep Bacon on commission

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

When things are going well, it’s not a good idea to rock the boat. That maritime analogy is appropriate to the Port of Tacoma commission race on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.

Although three port commissioners are up for election, only one drew opposition, four-term veteran Connie Bacon in Position 1. Commissioners Don Meyer and Dick Marzano are unopposed.

Running against Bacon are former Port of Tacoma security director Eric E. Holdeman of Puyallup and engineer Dave Dormier of Gig Harbor. The two top vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 5 general

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Memo to Seattle: Cooperation runs both ways

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Ah, yes, cooperation. A favorite theme of Seattle leaders when it comes to the Port of Tacoma.

The port is suddenly poised for a massive expansion. On Thursday, the “Grand Alliance” – a consortium of three big shipping lines – announced plans to shift their cargoes to Washington United Terminals on the west side of the Blair Waterway.

NYK Lines, OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd may wind up moving as much as 400,000 cargo containers through Blair, a surge that will again make Tacoma the state’s leading seaport and bring Pierce County a slew of high-paying jobs.

Unfortunately, Tacoma’s gain is Seattle’s loss. The Grand Alliance now operates out of Terminal 18 at the Port of Seattle. Ships, cargo and jobs will simply be moving down the Sound a few miles.

The news has been greeted up north with barely controlled apoplexy. The Port of Seattle issued a statement pointing to its $1 billion investment in seaport infrastructure – which could wind up under-utilized – and the loss of livelihoods on its waterfront.

“We continue to call for a dialogue about how the two ports can cooperate in order to maximize return on taxpayer investment,” the statement continued.
Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton described it as the latest round of a “race to the bottom” that is keeping his port from raising its rates and threatening the maintenance of its terminals.

In reality, it’s not a race to the bottom so much as a response to opportunity. Tacoma’s port has immense capacity inside the Blair. Washington Waterways Terminal, for example, sits on 102 acres; it offers six immense cranes and an on-dock rail yard for direct transfer of containers from ship to freight train.

Ideally, the port would be snagging shipping lines from, say, British Columbia. But these businesses own calculators, and they grab value where they find it. It’s a competitive world, even within the Puget Sound region.

Ask the Tacomans who are still feeling the aftershocks of Russell Investments’ move to Seattle two years ago.
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