By Leo Quigley, AJOT

The US Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma are expecting to smash box handling records by year-end.

With Year-To-Date statistics well ahead of last year and operations in the Pacific Northwest running like a well-oiled machine the economic benefits of the upsurge in Asian trade is becoming evident.


To the end of July (YTD) the Port of Seattle saw total container handlings increase from 920,604 teus to 1,150,381 teus, representing a YTD increase of 25%. Full YTD (July) imports from Asia were up by 33.2% and full exports to Asia were up 34.2% compared to last year, which was a record year. Roughly 97% of the trade through Seattle comes from Asian countries.

Mick Shultz, port spokesman, told AJOT the growth in traffic, particularly from Asia, has not been unexpected, however port officials were predicting the growth would come gradually, not suddenly.

“However, we’ll take it any way we can get it,” he said.

“I think we’re the fastest growing port in North America this year, so far. Everything I’ve seen points to that.

“Some people may be surprised, but when you look at Terminal 18, just one of our terminals, we’ve go 20 carriers that call there.”

Asked if he expects Seattle to break a record this year, Shultz answered, “definitely.”


The Port of Tacoma is projecting container handlings will hit 2.2 million teus this year compared to 1.8 million in 2004. This will set a new record and will represent growth of 22.4%. However, these numbers include domestic traffic, much of it to the State of Alaska. With domestic traffic stripped out, Tacoma’s international container traffic is projected to increase about 30% this year and this will mark the first time the port breaks through the two million teu barrier.

“Our numbers last year were fairly flat,” Mike Wasem, port spokesman, told AJOT. “We were doing a lot of construction and were doing some terminal relocations that continued throughout the first six months of this year.

“But, even with that, our growth projection is 22.4%,” he said

“One thing that’s kind of interesting,” Wasem said, “is our intermodal lifts.

“We put more than 70% of everything on trains and shoot them East. We had a record of 490,000 intermodal lifts last year. Our 2005 projection is 692,000. That’s an increase of just over 41%.”

Recent infrastructure expansion projects at the Port of Tacoma have included:

  • The Pierce County Terminal opening for Evergreen Line.
  • Renovation of Terminal 4 for “K” Line
  • Renovation of Terminal 7 for Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.
  • Official opening of Olympic Container Terminal is slated for mid-October of this year.

Wasem said the port is expecting to break the three million teu barrier by 2008.