Port of Tacoma cargo report a mix of good and bad news

John Gillie, June 5, 2015, The News Tribune

Port of Tacoma officials delivered both good news and bad news to port commission members Thursday as some parts of the port’s business have prospered during the year’s first few months while others have faltered.


Among the welcome developments:


Some container shipping lines have begun calling at the Port of Tacoma with larger ships while others have inquired about doing so. Those larger ships are bringing more containerized cargo to the port.


Shipments of large construction machinery and so-called breakbulk cargoes through the port are up significantly through the first few months of the year.


The port’s income from fees on the usage of cranes and other equipment has increased from last year.


The pace of shipments has returned to normal after a four-month labor-related slowdown that ended in late February when the Longshore Union and the Pacific Maritime Association agreed to a new coastwide contract.


Some port construction projects have cost less than anticipated.


But the port commission also heard bad news:


The new owner of Horizon Lines’ Hawaiian services, Pasha Lines, is discontinuing weekly service from Tacoma to the 50th state.


Grain shipments through the port are down significantly from last year in part because of railroad congestion between the upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. Coal and oil trains are now crowding out grain trains on the limited-capacity routes.


Log exports have fallen steeply, driven by depressed home building activity in China.


Auto imports are off from last year in part because Americans are now buying more larger vehicles instead of the smaller foreign-made vehicles imported through the Port of Tacoma.


On balance, this mix of good and bad news will yield slightly better-than-forecast financial results for the port this year, predicted port officials. The port’s net income is expected to be nearly $1 million higher than forecast.


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