Cruise ship docks will move to Terminal 91

The Port of Seattle announced Feb. 14 it will begin preliminary work on a new container facility at Terminal 30, a move that would relocate cruise ship docking facilities to Magnolia's Terminal 91 at an preliminary estimated cost of $90 to $120 million.

The port also authorized a new lease with SSAT to operate the facility once finished.

"This has been discussed internally for a few months now," said David Schaefer, spokesperson for the Port of Seattle. "It's our first big step."

The next step, Schaefer added, will include revamping Terminal 30, previously used in 2002 as a container facility. When ocean carriers moved to other locations in the harbor, it reopened as a cruise docking area in May 2004.

With the reopening of Terminal 30, located between East Marginal Way and East Duwamish Waterway, cruise ships would move over to Magnolia's Terminal 91, located near Interbay.

"Because of the amount of growth in container shipping, we needed to reopen it," Schaefer explained. In fact, Seattle is currently the number one container port globally for the second consecutive year. In 2005, about 2 million containers passed through Seattle's ports: An 18 percent increase since 2004. The ultimate growth in the industry led the commission's decision to open new terminals, Schaefer said.

When Terminal 30 is renovated, it will contain 70 acres for handling cargo and two vessel berths. This, combined with terminals 25 and 28, likely will make a large enough space to accommodate growth in the container industry.

As for Terminal 91, new home of cruise ships, it will have two vessel berths, a terminal building and parking for passengers with bus access. The move will not disrupt the fishing industry at the terminal; factory trawlers are at sea during summer months and will not compete with incoming cruise liners during those months.

Cruise ships will continue to pass through Pier 66.

According to the Port Commission, building a new container terminal will not budge existing plans for the North Bay project. "It really doesn't affect North Bay at all," Schaefer said. The commission recently approved plans to develop a 57-acre site in the Interbay area, near the Magnolia Bridge. This makes room for retail and commercial development and will double the space for maritime activities already using the site.

The North Bay project proposes to bring in 10,000 new jobs. It will take an estimated 20-25 years to complete.

Not only will the new project give a boost to the container shipping industry in Seattle, Schaefer said, but it also means big business for cruise ships. Already, in 2005, passenger volumes increased 22 percent to 686,357. Passenger counts are expected to reach an all-time high of 740,000 with 200 ship calls.

Following the expected approval of the project by the commission, there will be a full environmental inspection to determine the possible effects of the project on air and water quality, traffic, noise and light.

The new project, according to Schaefer, will stimulate an even larger growth in the container shipping industry and will give a tremendous boost to Seattle's fast-growing economy.

Stefanie Furer is a Newslab student in the University of Washington's communications department.[[In-content Ad]]