Tacoma and Olympia’s port commissions voted to adopt an Interlocal Agreement to form a strategic partnership to improve regional rail system capacity and establish a center for warehousing and distribution.
The agreement calls for the two ports to purchase, plan and develop a South Sound Logistics Center on a 745-acre site in Thurston County, along Interstate 5. Under terms of the agreement, the two ports have until December 31, 2007 to sign a finalJoint Operating Agreement.
The land development may include facilities designed for handling the growing volume of international and domestic cargo moving through the region via truck and rail. "This land provides a strategic opportunity for our two ports, and our entire region, to work together to create additional rail capacity and efficiency through the South Puget Sound and the entire state," said Port of Olympia Commission President Steven C. Pottle. "Freight mobility and the economic benefits of maritime commerce do not end at county lines. We must work together regionally to improve our transportation system,” he continued.
"The real payoff of this project will be family-wage jobs, not just for Thurston County, but for the entire South Puget Sound," said Pottle. "This cooperative project shows how ports can work together to create broad, regional economic opportunities. And I am confident that this project will help bring additional private investment to our area."
The property is a former industrial site that now has permitting in place for gravel mining. The property is near rail tracks used by BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and the Mountain Division of Tacoma Rail, a division of Tacoma Public Utilities.
According to the Interlocal Agreement, the objectives and intended benefits of the joint project include:
Expediting regional and statewide movement of goods;
Improving freight movement on rail, as well as local and interstate roadways, capacity and operational efficiency of both ports;
Expanding job opportunities for residents of Thurston County and Pierce County;
Improving rail service and access for both ports;
Reducing the environmental impact of diesel emissions, due to more efficient freight movement;
Stimulating private investment in industrial, manufacturing and office facilities; and
Container traffic through the Puget Sound region is projected to grow from its current level of 4.2 million twenty-foot-equivalent unites (TEUs) to more than 8 million TEUs by 2015. Breakbulk cargo volumes, which have grown significantly over the past five years, are expected to double within the next 20 years, according to a Washington Public Ports Association 2004 freight mobility study.