New Marshall Avenue auto facility opens

It may look like a giant parking lot, but the newly opened Marshall Avenue Auto Facility at the Port of Tacoma represents a new chapter in the growth of the port and its customer, Auto Warehousing Company (AWC). The new $40 million, leased auto-processing facility allows the port and AWC to continue the expansion of auto import processing in Tacoma.

The company currently processes Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki auto imports through Tacoma. In 2002, these vehicles accounted for a port record of 180,000 autos.

Over the past two and a half years, the Port and AWC have worked closely with engineers to design the most efficient auto-processing facility possible.
At 146.5 acres, the Marshall Avenue Auto Facility is capable of storing and processing more than 19,000 vehicles at a time.

The facility, which includes buildings for offices, washing and vehicle maintenance, is designed for quick, efficient transfer from ship to auto processing, and to truck or rail, says Steve Seher, president and CEO of Auto Warehousing Company.

“The short-term auto storage is in very close proximity to rail and truck load-out areas,” said Seher. “Our objective in the design of this facility was to make everything as seamless and efficient as possible. The Marshall Avenue complex truly sets a new standard for North American auto processing.”

According to Dick Marzano, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission, the new auto-processing facility is a reflection of the port’s growth, its commitment to cargo diversity, and it demonstrates a vision of the future. “It also shows our commitment to our customers. By meeting the growth needs of our customers and developing facilities like this, we are meeting their needs – both today and for decades to come.”

In addition to the new auto-processing facility, the Blair Terminal (formerly the Blair Log Dock) on the Blair Waterway was upgraded to meet the requirements of auto ships.

As vehicles exit ships at the terminal, they will cross Port of Tacoma Road to the Marshall Avenue complex, via a dedicated bridge, now under construction. The bridge is scheduled for completion in 2004.

“In the interest of creating jobs and economic vitality for our region, this is the first of several major new projects that our Port is working to develop over the next five years, as we continue to grow and build for the future,” said Andrea Riniker, the port’s executive director. “Not only does this new auto facility open up new opportunities for Auto Warehousing Company and the many fine customers they serve, it also opens up the opportunity for Evergreen Line’s expansion at Auto Warehousing’s former home.”

As the new Marshall Avenue Auto Terminal is opening, construction is under way at the new Evergreen Terminal project – the centerpiece of the Port’s five-year, $341 million capital development program.

The 171-acre terminal, which features an on-dock intermodal yard, will have an annual capacity of more than 480,000 container lifts – or approximately 840,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent “containers”) when the new terminal opens in early 2005.

Evergreen’s move to this site, formerly used for auto processing, created the opportunity for AWC and the Port to construct the Marshall Avenue complex.
“As you can imagine, these major developments do not happen overnight,” Riniker said of the new Evergreen Terminal and auto-processing facility. “It requires a great deal of planning, commitment, vision and coordination to transform this facility from an idea into a reality.”

Headquartered in Tacoma, AWC is one of the largest auto processing companies in the United States, handling about 3.2 million vehicles each year – about one-fifth of vehicles sold in the United States. The company has auto-processing activities at 22 locations in the U.S. and one in Mexico. Autos shipped through Tacoma include Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki.

To learn more about the company, visit