COMPETING WITH CAPACITY Tacoma’s record level of construction is aimed at attracting more Asian cargo. (Photo top and below courtesy of the Port of Tacoma)

...down a day," paving almost 200 acres of new yard, says Frank Davidson, program manager for the Pierce County Terminal project. The new terminal for shipper Evergreen sits on 341 acres and will handle 1.2 million containers a year.

Crews with a joint venture of Seattlebased Manson Construction and Evansville, Ill.-based Traylor Bros. are extending an existing 1,400-ft-long pier to 2,087 ft, driving 530 precast concrete piles as deep as 160 ft and building 3,000 ft of steel bulkhead against a sloped surface to create lateral seismic resistance. The 171-acre Phase 1 is 80% complete.

The joint venture’s $39-million contract includes dredging 2 million cu yd of channel. Tukwila, Wash.-based ICON Materials also has a $48.6-million contract to build an intermodal yard. Phase 2 will expand the terminal to 237 acres total with 2,260 ft of berth.

DOCK Adams, Davidson see work.

Because timely expansion is so crucial in an age of booming container traffic, the port conducted peer reviews at the 10, 30, 60 and 90% design stages with contractors, consultants and Evergreen, says Mike Adams, acting senior director of facilities development. The three main contractors were encouraged to critique elements outside their own scope of work. Change orders have constituted less than 5% of construction costs, says Adams.

Tacoma is fortunate to have room to grow, says Timothy J. Farrell, the port’s acting executive director. "There’s more expansion for us in the future," he says. The port recently signed an agreement with a local Indian tribe to discuss the potential of building a 350-acre container terminal.

Tacoma will have plenty of competition. Construction is just starting on the East Coast’s largest new container project, a 570-acre site in Portsmouth, Va., acquired by private shipper APM Terminals Inc., Charlotte, N.C. The $300-million terminal will feature 4,000 ft of deepwater berth space. Site preparation will take three years.

While the project is one of the first major privately developed U.S. projects of its kind, it may not be the last. "Looking for creative ways for ports to partner with the private sector will be key," says Sewell. "Usually publicly funded [U.S.] port authorities make investments and are paid back by the private users."


Private container operator SSA Marine, Seattle, is partnering with Texas City, Texas, on a $600-million new terminal. The Port of New Orleans hopes to develop equity partnerships with private businesses to fund up to $260 million in capital improvements, says Gary LaGrange, port executive director. The Port of Corpus Christi bought 1,100 acres in 1998, and is looking for private development partners to build a terminal that could handle 400,000 TEUs.

Virginia Port Authority has its own plans. The Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a plan for a $2.9-billion, 600-acre container that would handle 4 million annual TEUs. Construction is expected to begin in 2007 and be built in four stages through 2035.

For now, the port has $270 million in work just to keep up. In an $80-million project, Tidewater Skanska is rebuilding the southern section of Norfolk International Terminals, driving cylinder piles down to 110 ft and repaving the backup area...