Columbia River Dredging Project
A $200 million effort that began 20 years ago ended Wednesday when a contract dredge finished the Columbia River channel-deepening project, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Regional port officials hailed the economic significance of the project, which involved deepening the channel from 40 feet to 43 from its mouth to Portland so freighters can carry bigger loads.
The final piece of dredging took place in the stretch of river off of Longview.
"Completing this project has been important to regional ports and to shippers alike," said Dave Hunt, executive director of the Columbia River Channel Coalition.
Although the corps began dredge work in 2005, the project was first conceived of about two decades ago. It was held up by economic and environmental reviews and challenges and the need to get Congress to pay for the work.
Port of Longview officials credit the channel-deepening project for helping attract a privately funded, $200 million grain elevator to the port that will go online next year. Farther up the river, Kalama Export spent about $36 million to upgrade its facilities at the Port of Kalama, and the port's other grain terminal, United Harvest LLC, also added capacity.
The dredging project was sponsored by the ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland, Vancouver, Portland and St. Helens, Ore.
The corps plans to plant native plants and trees at Cottonwood Island this spring as its last environmental mitigation for the project.
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