Northwest Seaport Alliance Projects Get Major Boost in Cantwell-backed Bill

Deepening project would make Port of Seattle the deepest container port in the country, expedited study may make Port of Tacoma just as deep

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Northwest Seaport Alliance faces competition from Canadian ports, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell – a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Transportation, and Science Committee – secured new measures to move forward harbor deepening projects at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

As some of the largest container ships operating have nearly doubled in size in the last five years, these harbor deepening projects will allow the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to remain competitive with Canadian ports and continue as top North American gateways for international trade, driving Washington state’s trade economy forward.

“In this legislation the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma are big economic winners. These two projects are going to help us continue to build the reputation of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma as moving our products throughout the United States to Asia quickly and reliably and reaching critical markets,” said Cantwell in remarks on the Senate floor. “Moving freight is what we do. Deepening the waterways of ports of Seattle and Tacoma will ensure that they can compete with Canadian ports. It will help us continue to grow our jobs in the maritime sector, and it will help us continue to be a gateway from North America to Asia.”

“We are pleased Congress has passed WRDA on schedule, as this bill authorizes the design and construction to deepen waterways in Seattle Harbor and will help expedite a similar project in Tacoma Harbor,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire.  “These projects will make NWSA’s harbors the deepest container gateway in the nation.  We thank Senator Cantwell for her support of Washington ports and the family wage jobs they bring to our state.”

Every year, marine cargo operations at these two ports generate $4.3 billion in economic activity and support 48,000 jobs. Statewide, Washington ports annually move $94.8 billion in exports and $91.5 billion in imports.

About the projects:

Port of Seattle

The bill authorizes the design and construction for deepening of the East and West Waterways to 57 feet. Additionally, the bill authorizes $29,000,000 in federal funding to match the $31,880,000 that will be provided by the Northwest Seaport Alliance to complete the deepening. Once the project is complete, Seattle will be the deepest waterway in the country.

Port of Tacoma

The bill authorizes an expedited completion of a study for the deepening of the Tacoma Harbor. In August of 2018, the Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to share the $3 million cost of studying deepening the Blair and Sitcum waterways at the Port of Tacoma. If the Army Corps determines the project is justified, the project can proceed to preconstruction planning, engineering and design without additional authorizations.