What a difference a few months make. It wasn’t so long ago that container shipping and the logistics chain were on the front page of most newspapers in the world. There were 101 ships at anchor off the coast of Southern California, and farmers and manufacturers were demanding action from Congress and the president. The supply chain had been strained like never before. And it held —barely.

So what about now? Where and how will cargo find its way to our shores? What ports will be chosen as the best places to do business? Where will state and federal resources be focused? And finally, how will Washington’s ports fare in this competition, and how will that impact our farmers and manufacturers in accessing foreign markets?

These are all important questions that many ports in Canada, the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast are busy answering. Just recently the Port of New York and New Jersey overtook the Port of Long Beach as the second largest port in the U.S. Meanwhile, our Canadian neighbors to the north are investing billions in expanding port facilities. The Port of Prince Rupert has plans for a new container terminal. Out East, Virginia state legislators are debating plans for a new “inland port” hundreds of miles from Norfolk — inland ports help with the kind of terminal congestion we saw at the height of the supply chain backup.

In Texas, the Port of Houston is seeking $80 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the expansion of the Houston Ship Channel. At the Port of Jacksonville, they will be receiving $45 million in state and local funding to raise power lines that span the St. John’s River to allow larger ships. In December of last year, Louisiana’s governor announced a historic public-private partnership to build a $1.8 billion state-of-the-art container facility on the Lower Mississippi River.  

Puget Sound ports support 58,000 jobs, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance — a partnership between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. They are the gateway for countless products grown or manufactured in Washington. They are central to the success of the state’s economy.

Of concern is the governor’s proposed 2023-2025 biennium transportation budget that delays projects key to freight mobility and economic development, which are already funded and under construction. Most of these projects were agreed upon and funded in the Connecting Washington revenue package adopted in 2015. One of these projects, the Highway 167/Highway 509, The Puget Sound Gateway Project, is key to improving the supply chain and port competitiveness in Puget Sound.


Other projects targeted for delay are the Interstate 5/Slater Road Interchange Improvements in Whatcom County; Highway 28/Highway 285 North Wenatchee Area Improvements; Interstate 82 Yakima — Union Gap Economic Development Improvements; Interstate 90 Snoqualmie Pass — Widen to Easton; U.S. 395 North Spokane Corridor; Highway 520/124th Street Interchange; Highway 539/Guide Meridian; and the I-5/156th Northeast Interchange in Snohomish County.

Our state government has a role to play in making sure our economy continues to produce good paying jobs related to the supply chain and international trade. The Legislature has been in session just under a month, and the time is right to make sure past commitments to Washington’s trade-dependent economy and the importance of maritime trade is on the table.

The Washington Maritime Federation and Washington’s ports met in Olympia last week with legislators to talk trade, logistics, transportation, fishing, ship building and repair, and how important their role is in making sure our state continues to thrive. Building on past commitments and ensuring a timely delivery of state transportation projects will help all of our maritime businesses continue to thrive and generate good paying family wage jobs for our community.