While containerized imports to North America generally exceed exports, a constant stream of agricultural, mining and construction equipment is strengthening non-containerized exports through the Port of Tacoma. In fact, compared with 2006, breakbulk cargo exports are up 4.5 percent.
"We continue to see strong movement of machinery and equipment, both inbound and westbound," said Port of Tacoma Senior Director of Operations John Bush. "We are forecasting continued growth. In fact, by 2010, we expect our breakbulk volumes to grow another 18 percent above current volumes."
In 2006, the Port handled 129,259 short tons of breakbulk cargo – the most since 1998. While overall breakbulk volumes are expected to dip slightly by the close of 2007, Port Director of Operational Services Susan Becklund credits the Port's continued strong performance to investments in its facilities.
"Last year, we renovated our breakbulk terminal. At 25 acres, it provides our customers with plenty of room to securely handle over-dimension and roll-on/roll-off cargoes," she said, noting that the facility features a 100,000 square-foot warehouse, three berths and on-dock rail with direct connections to BNSF and Union Pacific main lines. "This allows direct discharge of cargo from ship to rail and transcontinental transport – a key for many of our customers."
For truck transport, Terminal 7 is just three miles from Interstate 5 and a half hour from Interstate 90. "With easy access to six states and Western Canada, our transportation connections make Tacoma an ideal West Coast gateway for dimensional shipments," said Becklund.
While breakbulk exports grow, the Port continues to handle significant volumes of imports, including structural steel from
Korea and wire rod from China. "Wire rod volumes alone are up 50 percent this year," said Bush. "We expect cargoes like this to grow in the coming years."