Columbia River Shippers Sign Up
by James Mayer
Four exporters and one large shipping company have taken advantage of a Port of Portland program to subsidize shippers forced to use trucks or rail at higher cost while the Columbia and Snake river barge system is shut down for replacement and repair of locks.
The Port allocated $800,000 to help shippers get products to Portland and its international terminals during the 14-week closure that began Dec. 10.
Barges go through locks at The Dalles, John Day and Lower Monument dams on their way to Portland. It is the cheapest route for exporters.
The Port will pay shippers $400 a container for rail shipments from Lewiston, Idaho, and $250 per container moved by truck from Umatilla and Boardman, until the locks reopen or the $800,000 runs out.
Josh Thomas, a Port spokesman, said officials expect the money to be enough to support the shippers through the closure. The payments will not cover the total shipping costs but are designed to maintain Portland's competitive advantage. Exporters would otherwise find it cheaper to truck products to Puget Sound ports.
Last year, eastern Oregon and Idaho farmers shipped more than 2,000 containers of hay and other products by barge downriver to Portland for loading at Terminal 6 for shipment overseas.
The companies receiving the subsidies are:
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