Corps Announces Extended (14-Week) Columbia/Snake
PNWA contends that, "...Barge transportation is the most efficient, lowest cost, most environmentally friendly way to move goods."
However, following the 2011 Extended Lock Outage, Ken Casavant of Freight Policy Transportation Institute reports that:
Energy consumed per ton decreased 4.8 percent due to the heavy use of rail, which is more energy efficient than barge or truck...
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to conduct an extended navigation lock outage beginning December 12, 2016, Corps officials from Walla Walla and Portland districts announced this week during a regional navigation meeting held at the Port of Morrow SAGE Center in Boardman, Oregon.
The 14-week-long closure will affect all navigation locks operated by the Corps on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The extended lock outage plan is a coordinated effort between Portland and Walla Walla districts, whose goal is to prioritize needed lock repairs along the Columbia and Snake rivers to minimize the impact lock closures have on river users. To meet that goal, although the closure will not occur until December 2016, Corps officials wanted to provide early notice to commercial navigators and their customers so they can plan around the outage.
The Corps invited commercial navigation industry representatives to participate in regular communications about this upcoming outage and its associated major work projects. Corps presentations outlined the work to be done during the outage and the Corps' commitment to keep commercial navigators informed throughout the planning and work stages.
Drawing from effective communications experiences during the 2010-2011 extended navigation lock outage, and keeping an open ear to the inland navigation industry, the Corps demonstrated its intent to provide information in a timely manner, giving commercial navigation businesses and their customers maximum time to prepare for the outage.
"Initially, we plan to provide quarterly email updates about the Corps' planning progress. As we get closer to the start of the outage, updates will become more frequent," said Jeannette Wilson, Walla Walla District Navigation Business Line Manager. "In October and November 2016, updates will become part of a regularly scheduled webinar and teleconference meeting. Starting in December, teleconferences will occur weekly throughout the extended lock outage period."
Critical repairs and improvements currently planned to occur during the extended navigation lock outage include:
Aging infrastructure sometimes requires extensive non-routine repairs and rehabilitation that cannot be completed within the traditional two week-long annual routine maintenance outages. Extended lock closures are very unusual and carefully coordinated between districts to prioritize needed lock repairs and minimize the duration of closures.
This work will improve the long-term functionality and safety of these locks and improve the reliability of the Columbia-Snake River navigation system as a whole.
"Our districts have worked very hard to coordinate this extended outage. The alternative to these planned, coordinated outages is unplanned emergency outages that might shut down the navigation locks for a year or more," noted Wilson. "We understand the impact this outage has on our navigation stakeholders, and will do our utmost to complete the needed work on schedule."
The Pacific Northwest Waterways Association is working with the Corps to ensure key river system stakeholders are updated throughout the planning process.
"The successful 2011 coordinated maintenance closure of our river system is now viewed as a national model. There was a high level of communication between the Corps and river users, and the end result was a very smooth process which helped reduce the impacts to growers and shippers," stated Kristin Meira, Executive Director of PNWA.
"This type of planned and coordinated event is very different from an emergency or permanent closure. Early notice and advance planning of this kind allows grain growers, shippers and buyers overseas to coordinate the most ideal time to move cargo. During the 2011 event we saw that many folks chose to barge their goods prior to the closure, or hold product until the barge system reopened. When the locks went back in service, there was a flurry of activity and we saw the cargo return to barge transportation - the most efficient, lowest cost, most environmentally friendly way to move goods."
Energy Intensities of Freight: Barge, Truck and Railroad US Department of Energy, Transportation Energy Data Book
Economic & Environmental Impacts of Extended Lock Outage by Dr. Ken Casavant, Freight Policy Transportation Institute, 8/11
Industry Reactions to the Columbia-Snake River Extended Lock Outage by Dr. Ken Casavant, Freight Policy Transportation Institute, 6/11
Columbia Snake River System Extended Lock Closure by Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
From Survey conducted following the 2011 Extended Lock Outage (see Economic & Environmental Impacts of the Columbia-Snake River Extended Lock Outage by Dr. Ken Casavant Freight Policy Transportation Institute, August 2011).
Table 2.3 Typical Wheat Transportation Rates by Survey Respondents
Source: Elevator Firm Survey (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) - Washington State University
Prices in $/bushel.
Region Number of Firms Direct Truck to Final Market Truck-Barge Rail Eastern Oregon 5 $0.50 $0.29 $0.58 Northern Idaho 5 $1.50 $0.58 $0.73 Southern Idaho 3 $0.71 $0.86 $0.83 Northern Washington 5 $0.52 $0.57 $0.54 Southern Washington 8 $1.22 $0.47 $0.55 Pacific Northwest 26 $0.89 $0.55 $0.65 (bluefish adjusts for
volume differences by
region, Table 3.1)
$0.92 $0.51 $0.59
Excerpt from Economic & Environmental Impacts of the Columbia-Snake River Extended Lock Outage by Dr. Ken Casavant Freight Policy Transportation Institute, August 2011: However, energy consumed per ton decreased 4.8 percent due to the heavy use of rail, which is more energy efficient than barge or truck, and the increased use of barge prior to and after the lock outage.
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