Friends of Rocky Prairie
districts can invest in projects outside of their geographic port district
boundaries as long as they have the approval and support of a local port in a
neighboring county. [Washington state law -- RCW Sec. 53.08.240]
In the case of Rocky Prairie, the Port of Tacoma has purchased the property as a
result of an Interlocal Agreement with the Port of Olympia.
According to a joint news
release, July 18, 2006, from the Olympia and Tacoma Port Commissions:
OLYMPIA AND TACOMA PORT
COMMISSIONS APPROVE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
(July 18, 2006, News
Release) – The Port of Olympia and Port of
Tacoma Commissions have voted to adopt an Interlocal Agreement to form a
strategic partnership that will improve regional rail system capacity, establish
a center for warehousing and distribution and create a major South Puget Sound
The Port of Olympia Commission approved the Interlocal Agreement at its
regularly scheduled public meeting Monday, July 17, and the Port of Tacoma
Commission approved the Agreement at its public meeting July 18, 2006.
The Interlocal Agreement calls for the two ports to cooperatively purchase, plan
and develop a South Sound Logistics Center on a 745-acre site in Thurston
County, along Interstate 5. Under terms of the agreement, the two ports have
until December 31, 2007 to sign a final Joint Operating Agreement.
The vision for the land – located south of Olympia near Maytown, Washington –
may include facilities designed for handling the growing volume of international
and domestic cargo moving through the region via truck and rail.
“This land provides a strategic opportunity for our two ports, and our entire
region, to work together to create additional rail capacity and efficiency
through the South Puget Sound and the entire state," said Port of Olympia
Commission President Steven C. Pottle. "Freight mobility and the economic
benefits of maritime commerce do not end at county lines. We must work together
regionally to improve our transportation system.
“The real payoff of this project will be family-wage jobs, not just for Thurston
County, but for the entire South Puget Sound," said Pottle. "This cooperative
project shows how ports can work together to create broad, regional economic
opportunities. And I am confident that this project will help bring additional
private investment to our area."
The property is a former industrial site that now has permitting in place for
gravel mining. The property is near rail tracks used by BNSF Railway, Union
Pacific Railroad and the Mountain Division of Tacoma Rail, a division of Tacoma
According to the Interlocal Agreement, the objectives and intended benefits of
the joint project include:
Expediting regional and statewide movement of
Reducing traffic impacts on local and interstate
Increasing the capacity and operational
efficiency of both ports;
Expanding job opportunities for residents of
Pierce County and Thurston County;
Improving rail service and access for both
Reducing the environmental impact of diesel
emissions, due to more efficient freight movement;
Stimulating private investment in industrial,
manufacturing and office facilities; and
Enhancing the financial performance of both
Container traffic through the Puget Sound region is projected to grow from its
current level of 4.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units) to
more than 8 million TEUs by 2015. Breakbulk cargo volumes (non-container cargo),
which have grown significantly over the past five years, are expected to double
within the next 20 years, according to a Washington Public Ports Association
2004 freight mobility study.
"Numbers like this underscore the need for creative regional solutions to handle
increased freight volumes and continue to keep South Sound competitive in an
international arena," said Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon.
The proposed South Sound Logistics Center will provide a centralized,
rail-served location for manufacturers, distributors and cargo handlers.
Co-locating businesses that use the state's rail and highway networks at this
center means that trains and trucks can avoid multiple stops every day at widely
dispersed business locations to receive or deliver rail cars or trailers.
Instead, those businesses will be served at one location.
"The result is less time spent by trains stopping and starting on the main rail
lines," said Bacon. "Reducing the time spent moving cargo from one point to
another increases available cargo handling capacity throughout our
The two ports entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2006 that
authorized the Port of Tacoma to conduct feasibility studies to acquire the
necessary rights to purchase the site. With approval by both Port Commissions,
the Port of Tacoma is now authorized to close escrow and acquire the site.
Under terms of the Interlocal Agreement:
Port of Tacoma will be responsible for the initial cost of due diligence and
conceptual planning, and it will purchase the property, estimated at about $20
The Port of Olympia will lead conceptual
planning, land use and permitting, consulting with local stakeholders and
identifying market opportunities;
Both ports will collaborate on planning and
operation of regional rail and intermodal functions; and
Both ports intend to maximize the benefits to
their respective ports, their communities and the region through existing and
future operations from the proposed joint development.
Washington state law (RCW Sec. 53.08.240), port districts can invest in projects
outside of their geographic port district boundaries, as long as they have the
support and approval of the port in the neighboring county. Because this
development is sited in Thurston County, the Port of Olympia will have approval
on land uses.