Officials with the Port of Tacoma and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District will hold a public informational meeting on January 17 to outline the feasibility study and environmental assessment for potential improvements to the Blair Waterway. Such improvements could include deepening and widening to increase big ship access along the waterway. Interested members of the public are invited to attend one of two sessions that day.
The first session will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Both will be held at the Fabulich Center, Room 104 3600 Port of Tacoma Road Tacoma, Washington.
The sessions will include a one-hour open house period followed by a 30-minute informational presentation. Officials will explain the scope of the study, the Corps general investigation study process and opportunities for public involvement. The Corps and Port of Tacoma are seeking feedback on issues the public would like analyzed during the alternatives evaluation process.
The purpose of the Tacoma Harbor study is to investigate potential navigation improvements to the Blair Waterway to provide transportation cost savings for larger vessels calling at the port. The Port of Tacoma ranks as the 25th largest U.S. port by tonnage (2016 total tonnage), and as part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, is the fourth largest container gateway in North America. In the past decade, ships calling at the port have increased in size and draft at a dramatic pace. The Blair Waterway is authorized to -51 feet. Larger vessels have draft requirements deeper than -51 feet when fully laden, and therefore face tidal delays and other transportation inefficiencies when arriving and departing. The Corps-Port general investigation feasibility study will determine whether there is a federal interest in participating in a cost-shared modification of the existing Tacoma Harbor in the interest of navigation improvements and water resource development opportunities.