This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
A tax on shipping containers seems like an eminently reasonable way to pay for improvements to freight mobility, but apparently the Port of Seattle, the industry, and the Governor all disagree.
David Schaefer, spokesman for the Port of Seattle, said the unfunded rail projects are extremely important to the port.
“Freight projects are a big deal for us,” he said. “We’ve built the maritime infrastructure here for our port, and we have the capacity in our harbor to do double what we do now in terms of containers. We need to be sure we can get them in and out of Seattle.”
He said the port was one of the many voices against the shipping-container tax because it believed the tax would put it at a competitive disadvantage with other U.S. ports.
In other words, “it will hurt the port if we don’t get these new projects, but it will also hurt the port if we have to pay for them.”
I realize that the Ports of Tacoma, Portland, and Vancouver, WA, are all competing for the business. But the Port of Seattle’s in a pretty sweet position overall: it’s the fourth largest container port in America, and the 20th largest in the world. It takes a full day less to get here from China than it does to get to Long Beach, CA.
If these projects are really that important to the Port and its customers, aren’t they worth funding? It’s not like they’re being asked to foot the whole bill. For example, the tax would cover just $94M of the SR509 expansion, which is a billion-dollar project overall.