Monday, October 19, 2009

If there is no surge in shipping in Puget Sound, then what "overflow" would Olympia catch?

One of the reason's the Olympian supports Jeff Davis is his understanding that Olympia would catch some extra work from other ports:

Where Davis tops Peeler, in our estimation, is his optimistic vision for the Port of Olympia – from the shipping operation to the marina, and from the airport and to industrial property.

As a longshoreman, Davis understands the importance of port operations and how ports must have a tax subsidy to survive. There are a limited number of ports in this state and nation and the likelihood of creating a new port is very remote.

Davis understands that Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the nation and that one in every three jobs is tied to trade. The wheat farmer in the Palouse, the apple orchardist in Wenatchee and the Boeing engineer in Seattle all rely on port commerce for their livelihoods.

As Davis said, “Everyone benefits from an active marine terminal.”

With more and more of the products consumed in the United States being manufactured overseas, Davis understands that eventually the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and other West Coast locations will be overcrowded and marine shippers will be looking for alternative ports. With aggressive marketing, Davis thinks the marine terminal at the Port of Olympia can fill the void and be a thriving community asset that creates more jobs and commerce for the capital city and surrounding communities. He thinks there’s a real future in the shipment of windmill blades, pulp, paper and wood products.

His understanding of port growth is not so much (via Puget Sound Maritime):

The surge in import cargo to Puget Sound ports during much of the past decade was an anomaly that is unlikely to be repeated, a consultant told a joint meeting of the Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners this week.

The surge was a side effect of a port lockout and traffic congestion in California in 2002. Now that the effect is fading, rising competition from growing ports around the country — and from increasing use of “all-water” routes such as the newly enlarged Panama Canal —is likely to curtail cargo flows through Puget Sound in coming years.

The analysis, by port expert John Martin, surprised Tacoma and Seattle commissioners at a joint meeting Oct. 13. The analysis comes as the share of cargo handled by West Coast ports slipped below 50 percent for the first time in decades, according to data just released by Piers, a unit of the online Journal of Commerce.

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