Pacific Maritime Magazine | Regional Report: Puget Sound
From Pacific Maritime Magazine
Port of Everett
This year, Washington's third busiest seaport is celebrating its centennial birthday by fortifying its waterfront.
Port of Everett Acting CEO Lisa Lefeber, who came to the port almost 15 years ago, remarked at the series of projects that are either in the planning stages or in progress.
"One of the big developments is all of the construction that's going on," she said. "I think this is probably the most construction I had seen in my time at the port at one time. And these projects don't get any less complex or less expensive the longer you wait. So we made it a priority to get these projects under way so that we could stay and keep ourselves in the international trade business for at least the next 50 years."
Its biggest investment is the $36 million South Terminal Modernization project, which officials kicked off with a ground-breaking ceremony in August.
Set for completion in December 2019, the project will be able to support aerospace parts for the new 777X, as well as the next generation of over-dimensional cargo, by strengthening 560 feet of the 700-foot South Terminal dock structure and enhancing the wharf's electrical capabilities.
"I find it fitting that as we celebrate the Port of Everett's centennial year in 2018, we continue to be forward-thinking, preparing the Port's infrastructure to carry us into our next 100 years," Port Commission President Glen Bachman said in August. "Completing critical infrastructure upgrades like this will better position the Port and its facilities to handle the larger vessels and heavier cargoes now calling Everett, including aerospace parts for the new 777X and other opportunities on the horizon."
The dock will be able to handle two 100-foot gauge rail-mounted container cranes and the ability to plug into shore power at berth.
After a brief labor hiccup, the project is under way, Lefeber said.
"This has been a project that we've been working on for years and the fact that it's coming to fruition is extremely exciting," she said.
Meanwhile, the $6.5 million contract for the third phase of the Central Marina Improvements project has been awarded to American Construction Company, Inc., which was expected to start work in October.
The project, to be completed in May, will involve deepening the eastern portion of the Central Marina and building a new Guest Dock 5 and activity float at Fisherman's Harbor, a new K-Dock to serve yacht-class vessels and an L-dock for the commercial fishing fleet with floats from P-Dock, according to the port.
"The elements of this project are critical for implementing the Port's vision of a mixed-use waterfront that creates synergies between the upland properties and the marina," Bachman said in September.
This flurry of construction comes in the midst of tariffs and sanctions affecting goods being handled by Everett.
"We are a consumer port; we are very much in manufacturing, aerospace, forest products agricultural products – any cargo that you have heard that might have tariffs on, is essentially what we specialize in," Lefeber said.
And while tariffs are not good for business, uncertainty is worse, Lefeber said.
"If people are making business and pricing decisions based on an unknown circumstance, it creates more uncertainty and it essentially puts a hold on the logistics and cargo movement chain for the types of cargo that are being threatened by tariffs," she said. "I think the market has pretty much accepted the fact that there is going to be some level of tariffs on these products mentioned. We have seen an uptick in the amount of cargo that is being looked at and coming through the port compared to the early part of the year and in late 2017 when there was a lot of speculation and talk but no definitive action."
Now that the new reality of tariffs has been established in the market, the port is hopeful that 2019 will show an uptick in cargo movement, Lefeber said.
The port is also looking at diversifying its cargo by seeking another long-term contract and is actively marketing a 15-acre Shipyard space that could support military and other shipbuilding and repair activities in the Puget Sound, Lefeber said.
"That's going to be a key focus this year and the latter part of 2019," she said.
The port, which is developing its remaining parcels, also plans to look into acquiring more land next year to support additional maritime uses as well as future logistics and distribution centers to the north of the port, she added.
"As we wrap up our 100th year at the Port of Everett, we are looking forward to continuing to grow maritime jobs in our Harbor and go back to the roots of what made the port so successful in the last 100 years, which is international trade, shipbuilding, forest products, agriculture, aerospace – things that help the economy thrive while doing it with a balanced waterfront concept," Lefeber said.