Port celebrates new terminal opening

The Port of Tacoma, the Evergreen Group and hundreds of guests celebrated the grand opening of Pierce County Terminal, a new 171-acre mega-container terminal, at a special ceremony held at the facility on Friday.

Built on 51-foot deep water of the Port’s Blair Waterway with efficient road and trans-continental rail connections, the terminal is designed to efficiently move international containerized cargo to both regional markets by truck and throughout the United States by rail.

“This terminal is a great example of the ‘Tacoma Advantage’ – excellent intermodal capabilities, room to grow and a hard-working labor force,” said Timothy J. Farrell, the Port’s Executive Director.

“We anticipated our need for future growth and the Port officials here fully cooperated with us,” said S. Y. Kuo, Vice Group Chairman Captain for the Evergreen Group, the Taiwan-based parent company of steamship lines Evergreen Marine, Hatsu Marine and Lloyd Triestino – all of which will call at the new Tacoma terminal.

“Today, we can offer our customers expanded and state-of-the-art service through Tacoma moving cargo quickly and efficiently throughout North America,” Kuo said. “From our perspective as well, we are pleased that this long-term commitment from our company will also benefit the workforce and economy of the region.”

Farrell added, “This terminal illustrates how the Port of Tacoma is building a strong foundation for the future by anticipating the growth needs of existing customers.”

At $210 million, Pierce County Terminal redevelopment represents the largest construction project in Port of Tacoma history, and, says Port of Tacoma Commission President R. Ted Bottiger, the new terminal also represents a new “driving force” in the region’s economy. “There are many important elements of this terminal, but I think the most important are the jobs that this development created,” he said. “I am proud of all the business opportunities and jobs that our Pierce County Terminal development has created for our community and our state.”

And for the Evergreen Group, added Kuo, the new terminal is a significant commitment to its growing business in the Northwest and a vote of confidence in the Port’s inland transportation connections. The new terminal’s 12-track intermodal yard, which accommodates 72 double-stack cars, is directly connected to the two major trans-continental rail lines, BNSF and Union Pacific, through Tacoma Rail, a regional short line service.

In its current configuration, Pierce County Terminal has an estimated annual throughput capacity of about 840,000 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Container Units).

As trans-Pacific trade grows and the Pacific Northwest expands in its role as an intermodal gateway to the rest of North America, Evergreen has options for a significant terminal expansion.

Port Commissioner Dick Marzano, a past president of Tacoma Local 23 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), noted that the new terminal reaffirms Tacoma’s position as a major player in the shipping business. “But what it really re-emphasizes is the fact that we have a great staff that works hard and is able to put these terminals on line within budget, and that gives us more confidence to do these things in the future,” he said.

Evergreen currently runs three trans-Pacific services through Tacoma, with a weekly ship call by each. Pierce County Terminal is operated for Evergreen by Marine Terminals Corporation.

Evergreen Vice Group Chairman Capt. S. Y. Kuo (left) shakes hands with Washington Governor Christine Gregoire as Timothy J. Farrell, Executive Director of the Port of Tacoma (center) looks on. Gov. Gregoire was in Tacoma for a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Pierce County Terminal. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)