Port of Tacoma doubling growth rate of West Coast ports

Following a record-breaking year, container volumes at the Port of Tacoma continue to grow rapidly. Through the end of May, the port’s total container throughput is 28 percent ahead of the same period in 2002 – more than double the average growth at other West Coast ports (roughly 13 percent).

“These numbers are remarkable,” said Andrea Riniker, the port’s executive director. “All 2003 projections pointed to moderate growth after last year’s record volumes, but our throughput has never slowed, and we continue to set weekly records for intermodal lifts as we build for another record-breaking year. All of our international carriers have posted significant increases in container throughput. The ability of our port to keep ahead of this pace is a tribute to our labor partners, service providers, our employees and the commitment of our Port Commission to invest in facilities to handle this growth.”

In Tacoma, the outfall of the October 2002 port closure may now be a contributing factor in the port’s 2003 growth. “We believe that many shippers and steamship lines are further diversifying their ports of entry after coping with extreme intermodal congestion after the ports re-opened,” said Doug Ljungren, the port’s business planning manager.

Following the October port closure, Tacoma’s longshore labor, railways, stevedores and other service providers worked together to clear congestion. “The post-shutdown productivity was remarkable,” said Ljungren. “Shippers really took note of our performance and our ability to efficiently move cargo to inland markets. As a result, the Port of Tacoma is now benefiting.”

Productivity may also play a key role in the port’s recent success, says Riniker, noting that Evergreen’s current terminal (Terminal 4) boasts an average per-acre productivity of 7,300 TEUs – nearly double the West Coast average.