Longview Port’s ongoing rail expansion efforts and ongoing global supply chain issues were front and center during a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., held Wednesday after- noon at Longview.
Murray visited the Port of Longview during a series of roundtables with agency leaders from across the state about how they use their federal dollars for projects that benefit port infrastructure and capacity.
“I just think there are some amazing opportunities here and I love that you think about them and plan for them,” Murray told port executives. “And I want to do my part.”
The visit came after President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law a bill dubbed the Cut Inflation Act to, in part, address climate change and likely channel billions of dollars nationwide toward transport and ecological infrastructure. Murray earlier this year also supported the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which invested $450 million statewide in port infrastructure projects that would focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reduction of environmental impacts on the community.
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At Longview, the port has been constantly busy with wind power, grain and soda ash materials, said port general manager Dan Stahl. Financially, it has recorded record revenues in recent years.
Stahl said much of the federal funding will go to expanding capacity as the port gets busier with no signs of slowing down, especially as industries around the country continue to face shortages of the Supply Chain.
The expansion of the Industrial Rail Corridor, which port officials say will eventually triple rail capacity by building new tracks connecting the mainline to the terminals, is a project spurred by these federal grants. Last year, lawmakers helped secure $2.5 million for the project. Last year’s expansion also won a $16 million grant under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program.
Lisa Hendriksen, director of planning and environmental services, said she plans to start construction by the end of 2024 and finish by 2027.
“It’s the biggest project we’ve ever done,” Hendriksen said. “Our customers really, really need this growth.”
As part of the expansion, the port has also secured federal funding to help with the cost of building an overpass to handle the expected increase in volume that will come from a larger rail corridor. The first phase of the expansion costs about $74 million, Hendriksen said.
Stahl said Murray’s efforts in Congress also helped them secure a competitive federal grant that will help fund a feasibility study on the possibility of deepening the harbor and adding a turning basin, which supports the largest ships traveling along the river.
The study, which will be partly financed by the ports of Kalama and Longview via an interlocal agreement, costs 2.2 million dollars. Half of that spending will be covered by another federal grant guaranteed by local lawmakers.
“It really makes everything more efficient and safer for these ships,” Stahl said.
Murray’s talk with the port was one of many scheduled for Wednesday. Murray also visited Camas, Vancouver and Olympia to discuss other projects across the state.
In Camas, Murray was joined by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to tour a local semiconductor manufacturing plant, talk about the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act signed into law earlier this year, and explain how the law on reducing inflation will allow Medicare to reduce prescription drug costs. At Olympia, Murray hosted a roundtable to discuss how lawmakers and local leaders can add more affordable housing options.
Sydney Brown is a reporter for the Daily News covering education and environmental issues in Cowlitz County.