The Port of Everett Commission has approved the building of the port’s South Terminal wharf modernisation project and authorised staff to begin soliciting construction bids.

Construction is expected to begin in April 2018 and be completed by December 2019.

The project, along with the double rail siding that is presently under construction, is expected to help the port’s facilities to support the next generation of cargo, including aerospace parts for the new 777X, which is slated to come on stream later this year.

The South Terminal facility was originally constructed in the 1970s in Washington for log operations and is the primary focus of the modernisation development.

It is currently only able to accommodate 500lb per square foot,  however modern cargo operations generally require a minimum of 1,000lb per square foot.

The $36m Phase II of the project is expected to strengthen the remaining 560ft of the 700ft South Terminal dock structure, following the reinforcement of the first 140ft that took place as part of Phase I in 2015.

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“Staff have been doing a great job thinking strategically to phase, finance and permit this project in a way that delivers this project by December 2019.”

The dock will be able to accommodate two 100ft-gauge, rail-mounted container cranes following the completion, as well as offer shore-based power systems.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz said: “This is a bold and momentous step toward the goal that the Port Commission set forward nearly two years ago to modernise its seaport to support the industry shipping trends.

“This is the largest capital project the port has undertaken since the construction of Mount Baker Terminal in 2005.

“Staff have been doing a great job thinking strategically to phase, finance and permit this project in a way that delivers this project by December 2019.

“I would also like to thank the important partnership of our state and federal partners in Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation and our permitting agencies for their continued prioritisation and investment in the South Terminal Wharf Modernization project.”

The development has received support from both the state and federal level and has secured $22m in funding to date, which is expected to offset the cost of the project.