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David Morrison, PE, and Dakota Chamberlain, PE
Port of Tacoma; The Northwest Seaport Alliance

Competition to Cooperation: Formation of the Northwest Seaport Alliance

On August 4, 2015 the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma took action to form The Northwest Seaport Alliance (Alliance) in response to market conditions that led to an erosion of market share and an underutilization of the cargo terminals at both ports. Driven by industry consolidation, expansion and increased use of the Panama and Suez Canals, and volatile fuel costs the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma recognized the need to leverage strategic investments and improve efficiencies. The ships in use today are more than double in capacity of those calling at the two ports just a few years ago, and many foresee demand for even larger ships in the near future. The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma currently have limited capacity to handle these larger vessels. Key benefits of the Alliance include the ability to rationalize infrastructure investments at a regional level, better meet customer needs and demands for increased flexibility, and a focus on meeting Washington exporters’ needs, and growing our regional economy. This paper will discuss the background, negotiations, processes, and actions that culminated in the creation of the Alliance.

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