Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Intermodal Conference: Part Uno

Thanks to both the proximity and success of the Port of Tacoma, and their initiative as Principal Sponsor, the Tacoma metro enjoyed recent presentation of the Northwest Intermodal Conference May 19-20. Presented by Cargo Business News, this had to be one of the better transportation conferences.

The NWIC focused on the essential factors that affect the volume of intermodal traffic through the Pacific Northwest gateways and the development of strategies that will successfully drive this business. Attendees learned about the future of the intermodal business through Northwest ports from a panel of experts including business leaders hailing from every sector of the industry - ports, shippers, ocean carriers, railroads, intermodal marketing companies, third party logistics, equipment suppliers and other service providers – as well as from expert panelists from the fields of economics, academia and public policy. Issues discussed included the future of Pacific Northwest intermodal, trade trends, infrastructure development, industrial real estate solutions and shipper perspectives.

Tim Farrell, Executive Director, Port of Tacoma, began the conference with opening remarks, challenging the attendees to notice the opportunities and competitive advantages of the Port of Tacoma. Capacity, environmental quality and political support are all in the strong hand held by the Port of Tacoma.

The opening keynote by Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist, Moffat &Nichol, called to mind just how important it is for a community to be ready when the economic tide rises. Not all boats rise the same; those rise highest and fastest that are prepared to take the flood at its crest. Kemmsies expects a return to the long term trend in late '08, although his forecast is for slow growth through 2011. Nevertheless, slow growth is positive growth. And Kemmsies particular insight is his expectation that north-south trade could hold the greatest surprises.

Kemmsies, noted, as did other speakers later in the conference, that global trade has grown 2x GDP growth since 1950. This growth he attributes to containerization, trade agreements, the world wide web and offshoring. He cites tht the number of ports that can handle containers has increased from 75 in 1970 to about 550 in 2007.

For the U.S., Kemmsies says TEU (20-ft. equivalent units, a common denominator for container length) has increased 5x for our GDP growth of 2x between 1982 and 2007. His forecast is for PNW ports share of the North American volume to grow by 15% in the next decade. The current division on container volumes is due to the nature of cargo from origin to port of entry. West Coast ports receive household goods from Asia. East Coast ports receive medicine, toys, etc. from Europe, up 22%.

Kemmsies forecasts a 3.1% GDP growth and a 7.8% TEU growth until the next decline (recession) in 2011 (as the economy follows its pattern of 8.5 year cycle).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

EIS Scoping for Blair-Hylebos Project

The Port of Tacoma is gathering input as it begins considering potential environmental impacts of redeveloping terminals, roads and railways on a Tacoma Tideflats peninsula.

Redevelopment plans on the Blair-Hylebos Peninsula include:
· Relocating the Totem Ocean Trailer Express marine terminal
· Building a new container terminal for NYK Line
· Widening a section of the Blair Waterway
· Lengthening a wharf at Washington United Terminal
· Improving road and rail infrastructure

Given the scope of the redevelopment proposal, the Port of Tacoma plans to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). The environmental review process provides several opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed project:

· May 2008: Scope of environmental analysis
· September 2008: Draft Environmental Impact Statement
· February 2009: Final Environmental Impact Statement

The Port has scheduled a meeting May 29 as part of the public review process for the redevelopment project. The meeting is set for 4:30 to 7 p.m. in Room 104 of The Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road in Tacoma. Sue Mauermann, Director, Environmental Programs says staff from the Port’s Sustainable Development department will be available in an open house format to discuss various aspects of the project. Project managers are scheduled to deliver a short presentation at 6 p.m. and take public comment.

Comments on the scope of the environmental analysis, to be prepared later this summer, must be received by 5 p.m. June 6 to be considered in drafting the EIS. Comments may be sent by mail to: ATTN: Matoya Scott, Port of Tacoma, PO Box 1837, Tacoma, WA 98401-1837, or by e-mail.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meeting Dates Set for ST2 Public Outreach

Sound Transit has scheduled seven open houses throughout Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties to inform the public and get feedback on the new, ST2 proposal. If you are interested in regional equity and insuring that Pierce County gets its fair share of transporation dollars please attend one of the following meetings.

Two Open Houses will be held in Pierce County:

Sumner: Tues., June 3, Daffodil Valley Elementary School, 1509 Valley Ave.
Tacoma: Tues., June 10: Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave.

Open Houses outside the County include:

Thurs., May 22: Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196 St. S.W., Lynnwood
Wed., May 28: Highline Community College, 2400 S. 240 St., Des Moines
Wed., June 4: Northgate Community Center, 10510 5 Ave. N.E., Seattle
Thurs., June 5: Meydenbauer Center, 11100 N.E. 6 St., Bellevue
Wed., June 11: Everett Station, 3201 Smith Ave., Everett

All meetings run 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.; presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sound Transit Seeks Public Input on Transportation Package

One of the primary take aways from last year’s failed Roads and Transit initiative, Proposition 1, was that voters want a transportation package that will provide real congestion relief in a reasonable timeframe and at a cost that will not burden future generations.

Sound Transit’s response is a scaled back transit-only proposal in which all projects can be completed within 12 years for 62 percent to 67 percent less than the total price tag for the roads and transit projects that formed Proposition 1.

Sound Transit staff will be providing an overview of the proposal at the next RAMP meeting May 7th, 8am - 9am at the Fabulich Center at the Port of Tacoma.

The scaled back proposal includes the following projects:

Link light rail: 18 to 23 miles of light rail expansions to the north, south and east, potentially serving communities including Bellevue, the Overlake area of Redmond, Mercer Island, Des Moines and Seattle’s northern University District, Roosevelt and Northgate areas. Connector light rail service would link Seattle’s International District, First Hill and Capitol Hill areas.
Sounder commuter rail: Increases of up to 90 percent in Sounder service between Tacoma and Seattle, potentially including 12 additional daily trips and platform extensions to allow longer trains.

ST Express regional bus: Service increases of 10 to 15 percent in key corridors, bus rapid transit service on State Route 520 and up to 20 miles of new arterial transit lanes.

Improved station access: Funding to increase access to transit facilities in Auburn, Edmonds, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Lynnwood (including Ash Way and Mariner), Mukilteo, Puyallup, South Tacoma, Sumner, Tacoma and Tukwila. Projects will be tailored to the needs of each location and may include expanded parking; pedestrian improvements at or near stations; additional bus/transfer facilities for improved feeder service to stations; bicycle access and storage; and new and expanded drop-off areas to encourage ride-sharing.

Partnerships for expanded transit: Partnership funding for Eastside passenger rail on existing freight tracks; as well as for potential extensions of Tacoma Link light rail and projects in Bothell, Burien, Kirkland and Shoreline.

This month Sound Transit will launch a major public involvement effort to get input on the new plan. The public outreach includes meetings around the region (to be scheduled in Mid-May) as well as opportunities to comment in an online survey and by mail. In June and July the Board will consider the public priorities that are identified and whether to move forward with a 2008 ballot measure.

In the mean time you can e-mail your comments to

Thursday, May 01, 2008

2008 Pierce County Projects

At the next RAMP meeting (May 7th, 8am - 9am, Fabulich Center at the Port of Tacoma) George Walk, the Director of Government Relations for Pierce County will be providing an overview of the transportation projects in Pierce County funded in the 2008 Supplemental Transportation Budget.

A summary of the projects is provided here.