Pier Side: Parcel 15 cleanup project and commission officers top Thursday’s meeting

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Pier Side e-newsletter

Jan. 19, 2021

In this issue:

Parcel 15 cleanup project and commission officers top Thursday’s meeting

At its public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, the Port of Tacoma Commission will consider an interlocal agreement with the City of Fife for the Lower Wapato Creek Habitat Project. Related to this agreement, there will be a public hearing associated with surplussing 0.8 acre of land to the City of Fife. The commissioners will also consider several authorizations for the Lower Wapato Creek Habitat Project.

As part of the Port’s mission to clean up legacy contamination, the commissioners will consider an authorization to enter in an agreed order and a grant agreement with the Washington State Department of Ecology to implement the cleanup at Parcel 15, the former Portac property. They will also consider a project authorization for $50,000 to initiate a remedial design for this cleanup work.

Additionally, the commissioners will discuss amending an agreement with Maul Foster & Alongi to increase the Port’s strategic plan budget by $50,000 for a total cost of $341,700. They will also consider the 2021 commission officers and the development of two new committees. View the full agenda.

The public meeting begins at noon and will be streamed live on the Port of Tacoma’s website. You can also dial in at 253-617-4257 and use the conference ID 212 498 449#.

To deliver comments during the public testimony portion of the meeting, please send an email to comment@portoftacoma.com by 9 a.m. PT, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 that includes your name, the telephone number you will be calling from, and the agenda topic you wish to speak to. Please include “speaker” in the subject line. Written comments may be submitted to the same email address and will be provided to the commissioners.

Port of Tacoma accepting applications for 2021 Local Economic Development Investment Fund

Local Economic Development Investment Fund graphic

The Port is committed to supporting the economic vitality of our region, and we are currently seeking proposals for our annual Local Economic Development Investment Fund to bring economic development investments to Pierce County.

The Port of Tacoma Local Economic Development Investment Fund is a matching fund program with an annual budget of $250,000. This fund supports projects in Pierce County and is designed to assist non-profit organizations and municipal agencies in Pierce County with eligible economic development projects.

By state law, the port’s investment focus and priorities are limited to:

  • Road and freight rail infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs,
  • Marine tourism infrastructure projects intended to attract tourists to Pierce County from outside locations,
  • Projects, programs or events that promote international trade, or
  • Planning activities or events promoting tourism intended to attract tourists to Pierce County from outside locations.

Visit our website to learn more about the program and apply for the Local Economic Development Investment Fund.

Auto processing facility emblematic of commitment to clean waterways


To the casual observer, the Port of Tacoma’s Taylor Way Auto Facility looks like little more than a vast parking lot used to process imported vehicles on the Tacoma Tideflats.

But, to those familiar with the site’s history and what happens under the asphalt every time it rains, the facility is an unassuming symbol of the Port’s and tenant Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions’ (WW Solutions) commitment to protecting the health of our waterways.

“It is a huge home run for us and for WW Solutions,” said Anita Fichthorn, the Port’s water quality project manager.

“We consider ourselves stewards of the land,” said Dion Surface, general manager for the WW Solutions facility. He points to the facility’s water-recirculating car wash system and aggressive recycling program as examples of this commitment. But it’s what you can’t see that’s most impressive.

The 96-acre facility has an innovative stormwater treatment system that maximizes the space and keeps pollutants from washing into the Blair Waterway. Instead of pumps and a traditional treatment pond that would have left a large portion of the facility unusable, the system concept designed by Fichthorn uses 30 shallow vaults filled with sand, biochar, oyster shells and other material. Pollutants and heavy metals (such as copper and zinc) start filtering from stormwater as soon as it hits the ground, she said. Read the full story.

A car going through an automated car wash.

EPA and Tacoma Power grants help install first permanent fleet of electric cargo-handling equipment in Tacoma

electric terminal tractor.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, received $782,482 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant program.

The DERA grant will support Rail Management Services (RMS), who operates at the South Intermodal Yard at the Port of Tacoma, to replace six existing diesel-powered terminal tractors with electric versions.

“This grant will help secure our ability to install the first permanent deployment of electric cargo-handling equipment in our gateway,” said John McCarthy, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “Through our partnership with RMS and Tacoma Power, these upgrades will replace nearly 23,000 gallons of diesel fuel with clean electricity annually, resulting in reductions of diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions of 1.4 tons per year and 260 tons of greenhouse gas.”

The NWSA also received $132,000 in incentive funds from Tacoma Power’s Cargo and Material Handling Equipment Electrification grant program to support the installation of charging infrastructure to support the electric yard tractors.

The new electric tractors are expected to go into operation later this year. Visit the NWSA website to learn more about the project.

Aerial photo of a rail yard at the Port of Tacoma.

Port partners with Citizens for a Healthy Bay on MLK Day

Beach cleanup

As a day of service, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an opportunity for people to come together and give back to the community. We partnered with Citizens for a Healthy Bay to honor Dr. King’s legacy by holding a beach cleanup along Marine View Drive.

Volunteers masked up and spread out along the shoreline from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ Outer Hylebos habitat restoration site to the Port of Tacoma’s Dick Gilmur Kayak Launch.

The enthusiastic volunteers spent nearly four hours collecting trash and debris that had washed ashore or been illegally dumped. We ended up filling up two dumpsters full of debris—everything from plastic bottles and even a car bumper.

During the outing, we were rewarded with close-up views of sea lions swimming by and red-tailed hawks overhead—almost as a “thank you” for all the hard work!

Beach cleanup

The 'Swell' artwork is making a splash!

Last month the Port of Tacoma, in partnership with the City of Tacoma, unveiled a new public art piece at Fireman’s Park in downtown Tacoma.

The 10-foot-high Swell artwork commemorates the Port’s centennial and tells the story of the energy and opportunity that trade, transportation and the Port create for our region.

Thank you to everyone who checked it out and shared their awesome photos using #SwellTacoma.

With daylight lingering longer, we invite everyone to check out the interactive artwork. Don’t forget to wear a mask and practice physical distancing!

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5 things we're looking forward to in 2021

Port of Tacoma boat tours

Happy New Year! Here are five things we’re hoping we can do again in 2021!

In-person commission meetings

Port of Tacoma Commission meetings are held the third Thursday of every month. Until we can meet in person again, you can attend a virtual commission meeting

Nature walks

Our Port Biologist can’t wait until she can do in-person guided nature walks to share information about our habitat restoration efforts, including Place of Circling Waters. The 30-acre salmon habitat site was once a former a gravel mine and dump for building materials.  

Monthly bus tours

Once it’s ok to gather again, we’ll start up our free, monthly guided bus tours of port operations. In 2019, more than 400 people participated! Until then, we invite you to take a virtual tour of the Port.  


Pre-pandemic, hundreds of Pierce County families would make a pit stop at our annual Touch-a-Truck event where kids of all ages could meet longshore workers, climb into giant trucks, and ring the bell on a Tacoma Rail locomotive. We can’t wait to hold this event again!  

Annual boat tours

As soon as we’re able, we’ll invite you to cruise around Commencement Bay while learning about the working waterfront! More than 1,200 people from the South Sound joined us in 2019. 

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