Northwest now is supported in part by viewers like you.
It is one of the South sounds crown jewels, the Port of Tacoma, with 42,000 jobs related to port activity.
Its role in driving this area's economy just cannot be overstated.
And that's why we're focusing on the port tonight on Northwest down.
The ports analysis shows that it generates $3 billion in labor income and more than $100 million in state and local taxes.
The port was founded in 1918 and owns about 2500 acres on Tacoma as tied flats.
In 2014, the Port of Seattle and Tacoma entered into the Northwest Seaport Alliance in an effort to stop competing against each other and instead compete against the other ports up and down the West Coast.
The most recent read of the preliminary data for 2022 shows container volume falling 8%.
International imports and exports were down by an average of 16%.
Another interesting trend is the reduction in the share of total West Coast container traffic in 2022, down from 11.9% and now standing at about 11.3%.
With that said, looking ahead, all the trend lines are expected to head back up as long as we don't dip into a more serious than expected recession.
Joining us now is the longest serving member of the Port of Tacoma Commission.
Dick Marzano is a former Il TWU, Local 32 president who's been working with the port in one form or another for 52 years.
He was first elected to the Port Commission in 1995.
Dick, thanks so much for coming in Northwest.
Now, we were talking earlier, I was at a meeting earlier this year with you and I was taking notes and I was saying to myself, my gosh, there's a lot going on down there at the port.
We need to do a program about that.
So here we are.
I want to start with a little news, though.
You have a long history with Il Wu, and that is starting to heat up a little bit down in Southern California.
Apparently, we've been out of contract for about a year or so.
Read the tea leaves.
How is that going?
Are we going to see problems?
What are your thoughts on that?
Well, one of the things that people have to understand is that the labor and management haven't had an agreement or haven't sat down for almost ten years because they had a in their last contract.
Basically what they did is they just agreed to extend it.
So there's a lot of things that both sides have to, you know, kind of cure and make sure it happens.
It's been going on for about 9 to 10 months right now.
We've had contracts in the past that have lasted over a year.
There's going to be you know, you read about the paper, about the some of the disruptions.
Well, what happened was it was over Easter.
So a lot of people on Good Friday and things of that nature, I'm optimistic they'll hopefully get something done within a month.
It's time to have that happen.
Some of the issues that I wanted to get to with, like I said in that note taking process, we'll start first with competition.
This has been discussed for years that the West Coast ports eventually we're going to face the widening of the Panama Canal and boats were just going to shoot straight through and pass by.
Well, here we are.
It's actually happening.
It's no longer a discussion.
How do we short of running a blockade on the Panama Canal.
How do we compete with that?
What's the answer?
Well, one of the things that we did in 2015 is formed an alliance with the port of Seattle.
So we handle all of our maritime cargo.
And that helped us with regards to competing with Seattle for years.
Our main competition right now is Canada.
And part of the reason for that is the Canadian government, along with the railroad, have invested heavily building their ports up.
We in the Port of Seattle and Tacoma are our gateway, have invested close to $1,000,000,000 in creating our terminals to make sure that we can handle the larger vessels right now.
And it's working.
One of the things about the Panama Canal is that the bigger the vessels that are becoming right now, just about a year ago, they had one that blocked the Panama Canal and vessels were lost.
It took almost two weeks to get that done.
So it's already on its way to being obsolete, made to some of the bigger vessels.
What they're using is this canal.
So, yeah, and I had a note here about super ships.
I went out and shot a piece at the port a couple of years ago about the advent of super ships.
Well, here they are.
But you just got the Corps of Engineers to say go ahead with a deepening project.
Talk a little bit about some of the infrastructure work that's taking place out at the port to support these massive ships.
Well, one of the things that we're blessed with in the Seattle-Tacoma area, as we already have natural deep water, but what ends up happening with the bigger vessels is some of that water and some of the silk underneath gets cleared up.
So we need to have it a little bit deeper.
We're working with the Corps of Engineers right now, waiting for Congress to help us so we can move forward.
We have about a 53 to 55 depth right now.
We want to get to 58 feet and we hope to be doing that this year.
You mentioned the Northwest Marine Report Alliance.
And I want to ask you a broader question about that.
Has that worked out to be a good thing?
The idea was to keep from cannibalizing each other, but do you also have silos and and different commissioners and different boards?
You know, there's always a potential for friction.
When you look back now over the years that it's been in existence, is that that positive, that neutral?
How do you feel about it?
Well, one of the things that everybody prides themselves and what they, you know, basically where they are.
So we're always going to have a little bit of competition among ourselves.
But the underlying thing that we've all agreed to is what is good for the gateway.
We've invested in Tacoma, first in Husky Terminal, and now we're investing in Terminal five over in Seattle, and we're looking at the next investment we're going to make.
And it has helped.
And the reason being is that we were competing against each other.
So if we want a customer, we want it.
But what did we really win?
Because we need to make money to further our investments.
Yeah, it is working.
And the other thing, the half a billion dollars you spend in one place is something you've got to repeat to compete.
No, that's a that accrues to both.
Both both ports.
It it also helps our labor unions, both in Seattle and Tacoma, because they have the ability to work at either port.
One of the things at this meeting we were talking about the Chamber of Commerce's actual annual horizon's breakfast.
It was the first time I'd heard I wasn't aware that they were talking about slowing down or stopping the completion of 167.
I just about fell out of my chair because it's gosh, it's so important to this area in this region of this economy.
What is going on with that?
Had you heard that before and what's happened?
Yeah, what I had heard, there's a phase two of it.
Phase one is right now moving forward.
Phase two, the governor wanted to hold off on that.
Luckily, the legislature said, no, we're going to move forward.
The there was a $200 million gap.
They finally came up with the money to do that.
And one of the things that the Gateway Committee did it along with the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, along with other cities that we all worked together, we're contributing ourselves at the Port of Tacoma, has committed $30 million towards that.
So I'm Optimus Stick.
The glass keeps getting a little bit smaller, but I keep saying it's still half full that it's going to be moving forward.
And you mentioned some of the work that started now with the the move ahead legislation, the I-5 in the Port of Tacoma interchange.
What's happening with that?
What's the timeframe for that?
And maybe talk a little bit for folks who don't follow this too closely how that all ties eventually.
What's the picture in your head about how that all ties together?
Yeah, well, the I-5 corridor is a choke point, basically, and that's going to be done hopefully within the next year and a half to two years.
167 a little bit longer.
We're looking at, I think it's 2028 for completion, but it's a big gateway to the Eastern Washington agriculture growers to be able to make sure they make their products to the port.
Yeah, another another big piece of freight mobility, too.
That's problematic because both Seattle and Tacoma have a lot of property and a lot of things kind of pushed up against them.
But you cannot offload 100 ships or just pick a number and have that stuff stack up, come in off the boat and a bunch of stuff sitting there stacked up to go on the boat.
There needs to be a place where you can stage that, do some planning, have the right on the order, have the write off order, all that and maritime that was looked at several years ago that didn't work out, ended up in some litigation and everything else.
What is the plan now for off port freight mobility infrastructure to help remove some of that friction where everybody's not jammed into the same place, trying to stack things up?
That's a great question.
We have an off dock facilities right now and we're also developing more.
We need that to be able to move cargo off of the terminals so they can be on the off dock work truckers and other line drivers can get to that facility.
We also have some intermodal yards in Idaho, Oregon and in North Dakota where trucks are able to go to those facilities, put them on the rail, bring them to our ports area, which helps our exporting and our importing.
It's moving more cargo off of the I mean, off the highways, onto the rail.
So they're staging freight and making plans for onboarding as far out as the Dakotas, Minot, North Dakota is where we have our Kellogg, Idaho.
We have one in Oregon.
We're looking for one over in eastern Washington to be able to move those products here.
Any time you move an intermodal train off of the terminal, it's the equivalent of taking 250 trucks off the road.
One of the other pieces that relates to that, as I was interested to hear at this event, talking about all the heavy equipment that comes through the port in Tacoma, which is great because, you know, it's high value, it's a it's an export product, but it's also it doesn't come in a box.
It is really difficult to probably, I would guess, to to get to make efficient use of the space on a basically a rectangular ship to get that moved.
Talk a little bit about the importance of that that kind of freight what it's called and and is there any infrastructure improvements happening to kind of deal with that misshapen stuff A. Yeah, it's called break bulk cargo and it's exactly what you said.
It's cargo that cannot go into a container.
Your D tends your hay bales, things of that nature.
We're very happy that we're a diversified port.
Well, not only handle that, we also handle automobiles, but our break bulk business had record year last year and it continues to improve.
We worked worth APL up tribe leasing part of their property so we can expand our what is called EB one.
It's the terminal where our break bulk cargo goes and it continues to increase along with military movements that we have out of the Port of Tacoma, where a strategic port for the military.
So it's things like that that help us stay focused and really move forward.
Yeah, the strategic plan, I know that I believe that's just been completed.
Part of that is a big piece that we talk about all the time on this program and in other events around here in the South, Sound is workforce and workforce development.
Talk a little bit about the role that non-degree jobs and an increase in internships and some of those things have in building a workforce that doesn't have to bomb up to 167 to get a job.
One of the things that we're proud of is, is that we realize that there's a lot of young adults that do not want to go to college, are not going to We need maritime skilled trades.
And that's what we're developing right now.
We have some internships right now in the Port of Tacoma, working with other employers to help increase that.
One of the things that I've learned over the time that if you're a diesel mechanic or things of that nature, you can go any place in the world and get a job.
And there's so many people out there that have that skill that just needs some areas where they can develop and move forward.
Yeah, and it's nice to do it in a mild climate.
Yeah, it's not exactly in Williston.
It's not bad at the port.
It's yeah, I'll just put that in there for you.
Talk a little bit about the public schools and the partnership there with the Marine Skills Center.
What is that going to be?
How does that look?
How does it fit in?
Yeah, we're looking right now the Port of Tacoma for a new administration building.
At the same time, we signed an agreement, interlocal agreement with Tacoma schools to help develop a skill center we call it at Maritime 253, where the Tacoma schools, all of Pierce County, can be included, where students can get first hand knowledge of different trades and different things of that nature.
Youth, marine foundations.
Talk a little bit about that.
And the reason I'm bringing all these up is that there's there's an integrated, I think, effort on the part of the port, which I think is great to really do to to take a pretty big role in workforce development.
Is it self-serving?
But it helps all of us in Pierce County like I said, because you're going to have to jump in the car and drive north in order to get a decent job.
So talk a little bit, too, about the Youth Marine Foundation, how that fits.
Yeah, it's a great organization.
Tom Rogers, who helped spearhead that thing and it gets people under the water.
Young kids, they just bought a boat, I mean, a new ship where they're able to now have 60 students on at a time where before it was it was a little bit lot less.
And one of the things I would encourage people to go on the Firefox waterway and look at it, but these young kids being, you know, we're we're blessed to have this water and all this natural landscape that we have and to be able to open the eyes of young high school kids and and see that, it's amazing.
My number three thing that I was going to do when I was a kid was to go to Kings Point.
Oh, yes, a marine to do that.
If you thought about a partnership with them at all or or sending high school kids here who are on a degree pathway or is that anywhere in the strategic.
Well that's what the youth Marine sometimes, you know, gears up for.
And there has been people that have gone there.
So yeah, we're looking at whatever we can do to help encourage that.
It's a great career for young kids.
I just thought I'd throw that out there as an idea for, you know, that's great.
Last question for you.
Talk a little bit more about your strategic plan.
What are what is the next big thing on the radar?
You brought the big term you know, the big cranes in.
You're doing some deepening.
What is the next big thing the port really needs that you guys are setting your sights on over the course of the next decade or so.
Boy, you know, it's really not one thing.
It has to be a combination of everything.
We're looking at where the next fully developed terminal can be.
We're working with the Puyallup tribe and helping maybe look together in partnership and their terminal, I mean, in their properties.
Also at the same time, transportation issues, infrastructure, working with the different city of five, city of Tacoma to how we can best make this a better place, that in 20 years, 30 years down the road, people will be saying they did the right thing.
And so those containers or the freight or whatever is on and off in a day as opposed to having to kind of linger.
I said many times that whether people know it or not, we're all in in international trade, whether it's the phone you use, the car you drive, things of that nature and the traffic you're in on the highway.
Dick, great conversation, man.
You got through all those major points in a a nice period of time.
I so appreciate you coming in North.
It was a pleasure being here.
Another big focus of activity at the port revolves around environmental cleanups from the industrial operations of the past and as Northwest now contributor Steve Keegan's tells us, restoring Habitat for Fish and other wildlife on the Tide flats before Tacoma could become the city of destiny, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says old photographs and maps showed there may have been as many as 6000 acres of marshes and titans surrounding the mouth of the Puyallup River.
But the 1870s trains were destined for Tacoma.
Commerce was booming in the Washington territory.
It brought jobs and wealth and pollution.
By 1999, there were less than 200 acres of those lands left.
But now those numbers are growing.
It's also about being a really good environmental steward.
And the Port of Tacoma is really leading the way there.
The trickling waters of Rapido Creek once again meander through wetlands and fish habitat.
These restored acres are part of an advanced mitigation project.
The Puyallup tribe of Indians partnering alongside the Port of Tacoma.
Not only are you restoring it to its original shape and condition, but you're also creating flood capacity.
So when we get these crazy 100 year storms and things like this, this will fill up like a bathtub and retain flood water that normally would have been on the streets and things like that, and then metered back out into Commencement Bay here.
While Battle Creek was once cut down into a roadside ditch.
Now there's a bridge where culverts used to keep salmon from returning to spawn.
Plus, thousands of new plants join mature trees along the shore, taking it back to what it used to look like back when the port was born in 1918.
It started on 240 acres.
Here's what it looked like back in the 1950s.
But ever since it started, it's grown tenfold.
Since 1980, the port says it's preserved, constructed or helped to mitigate.
21 sites filling 213 acres.
Many of those projects highlight Nearby place of circling waters restores multiple habitats for salmon bearing halibut creek.
The lessons Port of Tacoma learned here a decade ago became a blueprint for what Little Creek and future projects already in the works.
It's so rewarding.
You know, we can model this stuff.
We can study this stuff.
We can hope that the fish come back.
But when you actually see them in the water and you see them jumping and then you realize that they might be endangered fish that you're really trying to bring back.
It's it's one of the most gratifying things about my job, a part of Tacoma.
Steve Higgins Northwest now Jason Jordan is the environmental programs director at the Port of Tacoma.
He has a masters in Public Affairs from Wazoo and a bachelor's from Western Washington University.
He previously worked for the city of Renton and then the Port of Seattle.
Jason, thanks for coming in.
Northwest now wanted to break out the environmental piece a little bit at the Port of Tacoma, and I'll start with a little news.
Had a boat fire down there recently.
And, you know, the port doesn't just see a fire and think to itself.
I gosh, I wonder what we're going to do.
You guys have a plan for it.
Hazmat fires a lot of that kind of thing.
Talk a little bit about how you dealt with that and what the plan is when it comes to environmental situations in the Port of Tacoma.
Yeah, Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me.
It's a pleasure to be here today.
Always fun to talk about the Port of Tacoma with specific to the boat fire, though, first of all, I'd like to have a shout out to the Unified Incident Command, folks that was led by the Coast Guard, the Tacoma Fire Department, Department of Ecology, and the tribes, along with Seaport and Port It Tacoma leadership.
So you're absolutely right.
You know, once the fire was identified, there was a massive engagement with that incident command.
The port played a key role in keeping our stakeholders informed, working closely with our waterway coordinators to make sure that they understood what they could and couldn't do on that waterway.
And then, of course, all of our tenants.
The way that typically works is our our security department is is our eyes and ears out on the field.
They'll notify us immediately and then we'll make sure that all the appropriate agencies, including the Coast Guard, Department of Ecology, are called and and then really let them guide.
And then once the incident is in this case, once the fire is put out, port staff, including our engineering department and environmental department, will go out and assess the situation, look at all of our key infrastructure, and then report back on whatever we learn from that incident.
One of the good things that's happened to the port recently got some federal nice federal funding for continued and remediation work and new initiatives for environmental work.
One of the things that I've heard from the port for a long time is the decarbonization, and I know you're running point on that.
Talk a little bit about what that is when it comes to fuels and shore power.
How do you take a port that is just bustling with trucks and tractors and trains and everything else and decarbonize it?
Yeah, great question.
Something that we're really passionate about at the Port Tacoma.
First of all, I want to start with the Northwest port's clean air strategy.
We actually have a strategy that's been adopted by our commissioners that says we will get to zero emissions by 2050.
In fact, our commissioners have asked us to look at it, look at expediting that to 2040.
So we're in the process of doing that right now.
So that's the big picture goal.
But we're and then as part of that, we've developed a five year implementation plan.
So things like Shore Power, we're in the process of developing and installing shore power at our Husky facility today.
Really excited about that opportunity.
And just to clarify that, so ship doesn't have to idle to make power, it plugs in and it can shut down its engines.
Believe it or not, when a ship's at birth, it still needs to run its engines.
Whether it's for refers to keep things cold for the staff that are on the ship and it still generates pollution.
So the idea is, is that they'll turn off those auxiliary engines that burn diesel and plug in to, in our case, Tacoma public utilities power and reduce emissions.
Other things that we're doing, we have a clean truck program that requires 2008 or or newer model year trucks.
Those emit significantly less diesel particulate matter.
We're developing a cargo handling equipment incentive program so that our our tenants and marine terminal operators will purchase zero emission or near zero emission equipment.
It's really a comprehensive approach and it's a great partnership with many entities, including the Ports of Seattle, the Seaport Alliance and the Port Tacoma.
Yeah, I can't think of an organization with more moving parts in it to try to decarbonize than a port.
With every mode of transportation taking place, marine mammals, noise, whale versus ship conflict, some crab monitoring, a lot going on with wildlife and with the preservation of wildlife.
I want to bring we'll talk about fish next, but I want to break out the wildlife piece.
Do you think we'll ever see a time at the port where where it will be kind of like it was a little bit where they'll be whales or there'll be wildlife running around or not?
It's too industrial.
Well, I'm super optimistic, kind.
I'm a glass half full kind of guy.
And so I do believe we will see a significant improvement.
And let me tell you about a couple of programs that we're doing at the Port of Tacoma, specifically our habitat mitigation strategy.
So when we go and create new habitat, it's solely focused on salmon recovery.
Which is really, really significant because it starts with salmon.
It starts with the juvenile salmon going out to the ocean and the adult salmon coming in to spawn.
We recognize that that's a critical food source for our southern killer whale re In addition to that, we have worked closely with that the quiet sound program.
In fact, the port's come was one of the funding partners for that.
And that's specifically designed to study and look for opportunities to slow down vessels so that we don't interfere with the Southern resident killer whale feeding.
That's been a great success.
We had a voluntary slow down program this last fall and we had over 50% compliance with that voluntary slow down and we're going to continue to monitor that and look for other ways where we can ensure not only that we're doing the most we can do for salmon recovery, but we're also looking out for all marine mammals, right, Because it all they all tie together.
Just before we started talking with you, we watched a piece from Steve Kitchens, who you and he went out and took a look at both Wahpeton and how those creeks are those done or is there more to do in terms of is it just a matter of waiting for time and tide now to to bring in vegetation and and other life or is there still more more to implement there.
Yeah, on Lower Wahpeton, which is a beautiful habitat site, it's generational.
I would encourage all your viewers to go out and take a look.
We are in the final stages of planting all of the habitat vegetation there.
So lots of native trees, native plants, native things like that over thousands of plants are being planted right now in preparation for, you know, the summer growth season.
Once we've done that, will be that site will be complete.
But beyond that site, the Port of Tacoma has several habitat sites.
Place of Circling Waters is an example of a marine marine view drive where you can go out and look and see what these generational investments about habitat and really focus on salmon recovery.
And what's really exciting is we demonstrate to your previous question, you can do that next to and comprehensively and strategically to a working water for a functioning, functioning port.
It's really exciting work.
Last 60 seconds or so here for you.
You know, you talked about meeting attainment goals for particular to shore power and some of those things that have been an issue for a while.
When you in your strategic plan, when you're looking through your radar, what is the problem that you see that's like we have to we're doing all these things.
This is great.
This has got to be addressed.
What is that?
Really, the focus right now in the next five years, in fact, we have a goal by 2030 to have shore power installed at all of our international marine terminals and both in Seattle and Tacoma.
That's if you had $1,000,000 and you wanted the biggest bang for your buck.
That's the big one.
That's the big one.
Then we need to look at trucks.
Trucks not only that serve our gateway, but they go through all the neighborhoods.
We need to look at how we can get to zero emissions or near zero emissions with trucks in our cargo handling equipment.
Great comprehensive look at everything that's going on with the port from an environmental perspective.
I really appreciate you coming on Northwest now and I appreciate you taking Steve out for a nice tour.
Thank you very much.
Thanks for coming.
The Port of Tacoma is something you see all the time, so it's easy to forget the role it plays in the South sound economy.
The bottom line, whether you notice it or not, thousands of people are at work, 24 seven 365, bringing in and pushing out the goods that drive our local economy.
I hope this program got you thinking and talking to watch this program again or to share it with others.
Northwest now can be found on the web at KB Etsy dot org and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter at Northwest.
Now a streamable podcast of this program is available under the northwest now tab at KBTC.org and on Apple podcasts by searching Northwest.
Now that's going to do it for this edition of Northwest now until next time.
I'm Tom Layson.
Thanks for watching.