Our speaker March 12th was Bill Bryant, Port Commission President and Seattle 4 Rotarian, who has long advocated a merger between the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle. The consolidation into a single seaport would keep jobs in Seattle. Some 200 thousand jobs are at stake in an industry whose marine cargo accounts for 1/3 of Washington’s GDP. The competition between the two ports has to cease. If cargo is divided between them, shippers would often decide to use Vancouver. Moreover, if each overbuilds to stay ahead of the other, the unsustainable result would land in the laps of the taxpayers. Note should be made that Elliott and Commencement Bays offer deep water that needs no dredging.
The overriding reality is that if one of the 4 huge merged shipping companies is lost to us, the job loss would be calamitous. Our ports are not ready for the larger ships and their larger cargoes. We must make ready for this, with limited time remaining. The merger would entail not only consolidating the single terminals of each port, but the necessity of offering four to the shipping companies. To that end, Terminal 5 is closed for the time being as it undergoes refurbishing. It is ideally situated: deep water, proximity of I-5 and I-90, the nearness of the airport (where Delta is to move its international hub from Tokyo to Seattle), and location at the terminus of transcontinental railroads.
Drawbacks to the merger, expected soon to get federal approval, consist of deficiencies in:
—Education. The appalling high school dropout rate and poor qualifications for community colleges leaves vital jobs in high numbers going wanting. Also it deprives people of the chance of a good living.
—Transportation. There is a crumbling infrastructure in regard to bridges, antiquated rail system, and worsening truck routes. If the merger is to reach all that it promises, these must be corrected. An impetus for us is that B.C. is seeing to its rail system in a tidy fashion. Then there is the airport. It needs to be greatly overhauled in regard to baggage, the North Satellite, elevators, escalators, arrivals facility, and replacement of the center runway. (Not cheap).
Summing up: From what Bryant tells us, this implementation is a must, as is the matter of expediting it