American Society of Civil Engineers

Expanding the Blair Waterway Navigation Channel and Turning Basin to Meet the Needs of Post Panamax Ships

by Thomas J. McCollough, P.E., M.ASCE, (Vice President, Moffatt & Nichol Engineers, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 720, Seattle, WA 98104), Sally Fisher, (Senior Environmental Scientist, GeoEngineers Inc., 1101 Fawcett Ave, Suite 200, Tacoma, WA. 98402), Richard Gilmur, (Director of Environmental Affairs, Port of Tacoma, P.O. Box 1837, Tacoma, WA 98401), Jeffrey Lincoln, (Senior Director of Facilities, Port of Tacoma, P.O. 1837, Tacoma, WA 98401), and Frank Davidson, P.E., M.ASCE, (PCT Program Manager, Port of Tacoma, P.O. Box 1837, Tacoma, WA 98401)
Section: Pierce County Terminal, Port of Tacoma, pp. 1-10, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Ports 2004: Port Development in the Changing World
Abstract: The development of Blair Waterway and has been a critical component of the infrastructure improvements completed by the Port of Tacoma to support and grow with the expanding container shipping industry. The Blair Waterway is located within the Port’s Industrial Development District which is adjacent to Commencement Bay and within the City of Tacoma. Since its creation, the Blair Waterway has been actively operated, managed, and maintained as an industrial and commercial navigable waterway. The waterway has become the centerpiece of the Port’s container shipping and automobile import industries through ongoing navigational and landside facility development. The Port continues to proactively improve the alignment and depth of Blair Waterway to address increasing ship sizes. The navigable depth of the waterway is currently 15.5 meters below mean lower low water (–51 feet MLLW), suitable for transit by the largest shipping vessels in the world. The Port is currently constructing a state-of-the-art container terminal at the head of Blair Waterway and is in the process of designing and permitting future infrastructure improvements to the waterway to further enhance the navigational characteristics and safety of the waterway.

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