Port, Puyallup Tribe sign deal for new terminal

At a special Port of Tacoma Commission meeting on Feb. 14, Port of Tacoma Commissioners authorized entering into a Memorandum of Intent with the Puyallup Tribe, Marine View Ventures and SSA Marine that focuses on cooperation and coordination of new terminal development on the Blair-Hylebos Peninsula. Marine View Ventures is the economic development arm of the Puyallup Tribe.
According to the agreement, the Port will enter into a preferential use and operating agreement with SSA Marine for use of a 1,200-foot (366-meter) berth and about 20 acres (8.1 hectares) of backup land area. The Port and the Tribe will exchange land to improve the overall layout of the current footprint of the future Tribe/SSA Marine terminal and future Port terminal developments. The Port will sell about 18 acres (7.3 hectares) to the Tribe, and about 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of Tribal property will be dredged and put to marine terminal use.
The Port and SSA Marine will cooperate on the widening of the Blair Waterway at the planned terminal site to improve the navigational safety and operational efficiencies of terminals on the Blair Waterway.
“This agreement is a milestone in the Tribe’s continuing efforts of achieving greater economic diversification,” said Herman Dillon, Chairman of the Puyallup Tribal Council. “By working together with the Port and SSA Marine, we are able to bring new developments and job opportunities to Pierce County and the Puget Sound region.”
“The Port and the Tribe have both made tremendous strides in the past by working together,” said Commission President Dick Marzano. “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in finalizing the components of a comprehensive agreement, but by continuing to work together, we will get there.”
“As a local company, we are very excited for our company to be expanding operations in Tacoma and working cooperatively with the Tribe and the Port,” said Bob Watters, Vice President of SSA Marine. “This is an important development for the Port and for the region.”
The Memorandum of Intent provides the foundation for developing the various components of a comprehensive agreement that will be developed by the three parties. The goal is to finalize the overall agreement by the end of March, so that it can be presented to the Puyallup Tribal Council, Marine View Ventures, the Port Commission and SSA Marine for review and consideration for approval in April.
The Blair Waterway has been at the center of the development of the Port of Tacoma since the 1920s. Like the Port, this waterway’s importance for shipping and industrial uses has grown over the years. During World War II, for example, Todd-Pacific Shipyards had a major facility on the Blair.
In the 1960s, the Port worked to extend the Blair Waterway by more than one mile. Dredge material from the waterway expansion was used to create more than 1,600 acres (647.5 hectares) of land for industrial development. The waterway is 51 feet (15.5 meters) deep.
In 1997, the removal of the Blair Bridge unlocked the full development potential of Tribal land and Port land on the upper Blair Waterway. Since that time, two major container terminals have been built on the upper Blair — Washington United Terminals (1999: Washington United Terminals serving Hyundai Merchant Marine and MOL at 102 acres/41.3 hectares, and 2005: Pierce County Terminal serving Evergreen Line at 171 acres/69.2 hectares).
Current developments planned for the east side of the Blair include a new terminal for the Puyallup Tribe and SSA Marine. The Port is also redeveloping other industrial property on the Blair into a new Port terminal for NYK Line, and reconfiguring a terminal for Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE).
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians has over 3,500 members. The administration building is located on Portland Avenue on Tacoma’s East Side, and the tribe’s reservation covers 18,500 acres in Pierce County. The tribe operates Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Chief Leschi Schools and is heavily involved in measures to improve the local environment, including operating fish hatcheries and monitoring water quality in the Puyallup River. It operates two casinos, a hotel, Chinook Landing Marina, several gas stations and other business enterprises through Marine View Ventures, the tribe’s economic development division.
SSA Marine, a subsidiary of Carrix, Inc., is the largest U.S. owned, and the largest privately held container terminal operator and cargo handling company in the world, handling approximately 22 million container TEUs per year. The nearly 60-year-old company serves more than 120 locations worldwide, including port operations throughout the U.S. as well as internationally in Panama, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Canada, Vietnam, South Africa and New Zealand.