The Port of Seattle is shown from the Columbia Tower Club on Thursday, October 18, 2018, in Seattle.
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The Port of Seattle is shown from the Columbia Tower Club on Thursday, October 18, 2018, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle's Terminal 5 will have the biggest cranes on the West Coast

For years Terminal 5 has stood empty, needing a half-billion worth of investment to be able to accommodate the international cargo business of the future.

Now, that $500 million has come in, and Terminal 5 is getting the biggest cranes on the coast.

Terminal 5 is a deep-water port drivers can see from the West Seattle Bridge. It’s a vast sea of concrete – 185 acres in all – that is scattered with containers and decked with dull orange cranes.

Unions such as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union see it as a “natural resource” because its waters are naturally deep enough to accommodate even the biggest ships.

And now it gets to be a cargo terminal once again. The Northwest Seaport Alliance will spend $340 million on construction at the terminal, which will include human-operated cranes that will be the largest on the West Coast.

SSA Marine is contributing the remaining $160 million. This will allow two of the shipping industry’s largest container vessels to be handled at the same time. The first berth is expected to open in 2021, the next two years later.

There was a time when City Council members like Lisa Herbold heard from Seattleites that the terminal’s vast stretches of concrete should be used for a homeless encampment, perhaps tiny houses.

But instead the Ports Alliance and the terminal operator SSA Marine are betting that international shipping fleets will want the most modern facilities, and will choose Seattle. Herbold said: “I believe.”