TOTE, Port of Tacoma reach lease agreement

The Port of Tacoma Commission Friday approved a restated lease with Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. (TOTE) that calls for a redeveloped Blair Waterway terminal for TOTE’s Alaska cargo business.

Under the lease, which runs through 2034, the Port will redevelop the TOTE terminal that will be up to 72 acres (29 hectares) in size, allowing TOTE to meet the growing Alaska market for decades to come.

“We are very happy with the impact of our new lease with the Port of Tacoma, as the lease provides access to additional land in future years and will meet our customers’ growth requirements for close to three decades,” said TOTE President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Deaver.

TOTE’s opportunity for growth is due to the Port’s recently announced agreement with NYK Line to build a 168-acre (68-hectare) facility for container terminal operator Yusen Terminal Tacoma Inc. (YTTI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NYK Line. Portions of TOTE’s existing, 47-acre (19-hectare) terminal will be incorporated into the NYK terminal.

Construction on the $104.3 million TOTE Terminal is scheduled to begin in 2009 and be complete in 2011. YTTI construction will start in 2010 and be complete by mid-2012.

TOTE operates a roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) service between the ports of Anchorage and Tacoma, moving 53-foot highway trailers directly on and off the vessels. This service allows for fast, efficient cargo distribution throughout Alaska.

TOTE first began calling in Tacoma in 1976, when Port management and the local longshore workforce together marketed Tacoma’s advantages to TOTE executives. Three decades later, more than 70 percent of all waterborne commerce between the lower 48 states and Alaska is handled through the Port of Tacoma on vessels operated by TOTE and Horizon Lines, the Port of Tacoma’s other Alaska carrier.

Presently, Alaska trade makes up 25 percent of the Port’s total trade volume. In 2006, TOTE and Horizon Lines collectively handled more than $3.5 billion in goods between Tacoma and Alaska.