Port officials talk trade and transportation at Chamber event

Terrence Hill, July 3, 2015, Federal Way Mirror

Representatives from the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle and Totem Ocean Trailer Express addressed the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to talk about growing trade in the region and improving infrastructure.


“Something that Canada gets very well and that fortunately — and I hope not too late, we’re beginning to get — is that there’s a direct relationship between having a transportation system that works and keeping jobs here in Washington state,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant said.


Both Bryant and Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe expressed their excitement at the $16.1 billion transportation bills that the state Senate recently passed, which includes $8.8 billion for state and local roads and $1.4 billion on maintenance and preservation.


The bill also includes an 11.9-cent gas tax increase over the next two years.


“We’ve been losing market share to other gateways and it’s time for us to take back our share,” Wolfe said. “Part of that recipe of success is to invest in infrastructure. It’s really important for our competitive positioning to have velocity of movement of cargo and this transportation package is going to do just that.”


Bryant agreed.


“It does no good for the port commissions in Seattle and Tacoma to take action, come together and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new facilities if right outside the port gates 40 percent of our roads are deteriorating,” he said.


Both Wolfe and Bryant stressed that other ports, such as those in British Columbia, have begun to take business and jobs from Tacoma and Seattle as they have modernized their infrastructure at a more rapid pace.


“The rest of the world is not going to sit idly by and wait for us to get our act together,” Bryant said. “If we can make the changes we need to build the infrastructure we need, we will keep jobs here and will expand the jobs in Washington state.”


Hartleigh Caine, the senior operations manager at Totem Ocean, touched on the company’s switch to liquified natural gas in an effort to be more environmentally friendly as they upgrade their ships.


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