Chamber and affiliate organizations urge Seattle City Council to approve heavy haul network

By: Alicia Teel Posted: 09/25/2015

Network would make cargo movement more efficient, enhancing Seattle's position as a global gateway for trade

PortBigThe Seattle Metro Chamber and two of its special programs, the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT) and the Washington Maritime Federation (WMF), urged the Seattle City Council to approve legislation establishing a heavy haul network. This network would increase weight limits on certain streets so that shippers can more easily transport goods between Seattle's terminals and the city's intermodal rail hubs.

Currently, moving heavy containers between the Northwest Seaport Alliance's Seattle harbors and local rail hubs requires special equipment, increasing the time and cost of moving this cargo. As a result, Seattle’s terminals are losing business to other West Coast ports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Vancouver, B.C. and Prince Rupert, because shippers cannot efficiently transport heavier loads between warehouses, rail yards and other terminals. 

In their letters, the Chamber, WCIT and WMF encouraged the Seattle City Council to pass legislation designating a heavy haul network, pointing out that it directly addresses the competitive challenge Seattle faces. This legislation was developed after Mayor Ed Murray and City of Seattle leaders worked with stakeholders in the maritime industry on how the City can better support the industry.  

The Chamber, speaking to the economic benefits of the legislation, noted that a heavy haul network "would strengthen Seattle's cargo movement sector, a vital component of our state’s thriving trade economy and our city’s maritime industry. The maritime industry generates over 22,000 jobs and contributes $2.1 billion to the local community. Many of these jobs pay family wages and are accessible to workers with a range of education levels, contributing to a strong middle class."

LEGISLATION PASSES OUT OF COMMITTEE 

The Seattle City Council's Transportation Committee approved the legislation by a 4-2 vote on Tuesday, September 22. Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, Jean Godden, John Okamoto and Tim Burgess voted for the legislation; Councilmembers Mike O'Brien and Kshama Sawant opposed it. 

Next, it heads to the full Council for a vote. 

For more information about the Chamber's involvement on this issue, please contact Meadow Johnson, the Chamber's senior vice president of government relations.