Port of Lewiston Set to Improve Dockby Carol Ryan Dumas
Capital Press, September 13, 2012
$2.9 million project to speed up loading, unloading of barges
The Port of Lewiston is moving ahead with a dock expansion expected to benefit agricultural exports.
Historically, 85 percent of the region's production of soft white wheat, peas and lentils is shipped through the port, which is Idaho's only multimodal transportation hub, with barge, truck and rail facilities.
The port handles 4,000 containers a year, and 60 percent of those carry ag products, said port manager Dave Doeringsfeld.
The port's 120-foot container dock, however, isn't large enough to meet demand. Currently, the port can provide access to one barge at a time, and either the dock crane or the barge must be repositioned several times to get the job done.
Doubling the size of the dock will remedy those problems, allowing the crane to move along the entire face of the dock and access two barges at once, Doeringsfeld said.
"It's a very important project to the port. It greatly enhances our capabilities to expand our opportunities for import and export commodities," he said.
The extension is a good thing for grain producers in northern Idaho and a good thing for commerce in general, said Travis Jones, executive director of the Idaho Grain producers Association.
It will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the port and Idaho's infrastructure, allowing cargo to move up and down the Columbia River quicker, he said.
Idaho Grain Producers sent a letter of support for the project to the Army Corps of Engineers and attended a public hearing on the project last October, he said.
The project costs $2.9 million. With a $600,000 loan from the Rural Economic Development and Integrated Freight Transportation Program approved in early August, the port has the funding it needs to move ahead, Doeringsfeld said.
The project has also received a $1.3 million discretionary grant from the Department of Transportation and a $350,000 Rural Community Block Grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce. The port will also provide $710,000.
The extension is scheduled to begin July 1, 2013, and be completed by the end of September 2013, Doeringsfeld said.
Extending the west end of the dock will provide better staging for cargo and allow the staging of a second barge. The port is a major shipping point for many agricultural products, including wheat, peas, lentils, and frozen potatoes, said Laura Johnson, bureau chief of the Idaho State Agriculture Department's Marketing Development Division.
The program is administered by the Ag Department in cooperation with the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Department of Commerce, she said.
The program is also providing a grant of $10,500 for Clark County to do a feasibility study for an intermodal rail spur. The grant will cover the development of an intermodal commerce authority and the engineering fees for the design of a two-phase conceptual rail infrastructure project in the county's new energy park.
The area serves a lot of agricultural producers, and the rail spur that used to service grain bins and a warehouse hasn't been used or maintained in years, said Kerri Ellis with Clark County Economic Development and Planning and Zoning. Improving the infrastructure will give businesses better access to the railroad, she said,
"Transportation infrastructure is a critical need for economic development," Gov. Butch Otter said in a press release. "Competitive transportation that can help Idaho companies get products to market faster and more cost-effectively will generate jobs and provide economic returns for future generations."
Up to 90 percent of project costs can be financed through the REDIFiT loan at interest rates ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent annually, depending on the length of the loan, Johnson said.
Grants are available for planning and development of Intermodal Commerce Authorities and have a cap of $100,000. Applicants must match 100 percent of the funds awarded.
Grants are accepted annually, with the next round due May 15, 2013. Loan applications are accepted quarterly.
For more information about the program, contact Johnson at 208-332-8533, 208-867-6005 or visit the website www.agri.idaho.gov/Categories/Marketing/transportation.php
Snake River Commodity Tonnage Army Corps of Engineers Data from 1990-2010
Lewiston Container Shipping Port of Lewiston Fact Sheet, 1997
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