River-Deepening Project Planned
by Erik Olson
The Port of Longview is looking to deepen the Columbia River three feet at eight of its berths so ships can unload more cargo, port officials said Tuesday.
The estimated $3 million project would allow the port to take full advantage of the newly deepened Columbia River ship channel, which was completed this summer, Ken O'Hollaren, Port of Longview executive director, said Tuesday.
"It is significant for the Port of Longview," he said.
After two decades of planning, the Army Corps of Engineers finished deepening the main shipping channel of the Columbia River to from 40 feet to 43 feet.
The $150 million deepening project extended 103 miles from Astoria to Portland and is expected to bring tens of millions of dollars worth of additional cargo to ports along the river.
The Port of Longview's eight berths are currently 40 feet deep, and the port is looking to deepen the berths to 43 feet within the next decade to match the new depth of the shipping lanes, O'Hollaren said.
The port's Berth 9, which is under construction to service a $200 million, privately financed grain terminal, already is 45 feet deep to accommodate fully loaded grain vessels, O'Hollaren said.
The port has hired Seattle-based consultant Anchor QEA to conduct a $50,000 study of the costs and environmental impacts of deepening Berths 1 through 8. The port expects to decide the next step for dredging the berths when the consultant's report is ready in October, O'Hollaren said.
The port is currently doing some maintenance dredging at all its berths, which are the area's adjacent to docks and leading out into the main shipping channel.
O'Hollaren said the port isn't losing business now because the berths are too shallow, but the port could attract more vessels down the road. Commissioners said they were pleased to prepare for the future.
"I like the idea of looking forward and planning to meet our future needs. It's a positive step," Commissioner Bob Bagaason said.
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