Port of Tacoma completes NIM upgrades

Ahead of the scheduled completion date, the Port of Tacoma last week finished a $4 million upgrade of its North Intermodal Yard (NIM).

The upgrade is designed to improve movements of intermodal containers and other rail-dependent cargoes through the Port.

The upgrade was scheduled to be completed on July 1, according to Michael Wasem, Port communications manager.

The two major users of NIM, which opened in 1981 as the first dockside rail facility on the West Coast, are Evergreen Line and “K” Line.

The facility features eight 3,200-foot and two 575-foot tracks with a capacity of approximately 88 doublestack container railcars or 264 conventional railcars.

Thirty-four straddle carriers service the yard.

According to Frank Davidson, Engineering Project Manager for the Port, the facility improvements are consistent with the Port’s goal of being “the most efficient and reliable intermodal gateway in North America.”

Upgrades to the area surrounding tracks 6, 7 and 8 – which began in February 2002 – include:

– Replacement of approximately 9,000 track feet of rail;

– Repair of deteriorated pavement adjacent to rail;

– Replacement of five rail crossings; and

– Installation of a subgrade drainage system.

According to Davidson, this project was the second phase of NIM upgrades.

“Paving and rail improvements to tracks 1 through 5 were completed last September,” he noted. “Completion of this phase creates a safer, more functional work environment that will result in much lower ongoing maintenance costs.”

The NIM upgrade is just one of a recent series of developments at the Port of Tacoma designed to meet future needs.

In the summer of 2001, the Port completed an $8.6 million, 20-acre expansion of Washington United Terminals.

Late in 2001, the Port finished a 600-foot, $9.2 million extension of the pier at Maersk Pacific Terminal.

The general contractor on the NIM project was Icon Materials, Inc. of Tukwila, Wash.

The Port of Tacoma, known as the gateway to Asia and Alaska, was established in 1918 and is the sixth largest container port in North America.

More than 28,000 jobs in Pierce County and nearly 102,000 jobs in Washington state are related to the Port’s activities.