Coastal Export Corridor Secures Funding for Rail Improvements
October 2010 - Thanks to Senator Patty Murray and the Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB), the Port of Grays Harbor is $4 million closer to their goal of raising more than $15 million to construct additional rail storage tracks in the marine terminal complex. With exports more than double 2009 same period volumes, the Port of Grays Harbor, on Washington’s Pacific Coast, is working diligently to construct the rail system to handle the thousands of automobiles and nearly one million tons of US agricultural products and liquid bulks shipping through Grays Harbor. The challenge is securing funding for this critical infrastructure.
Port officials have been working with private and public partners to develop a rail system master plan that will increase the cargo handling capacity of this deep-water shipping hub. Grays Harbor’s strategic position on Washington’s Pacific Coast has led to more than $130 million in private investment and an increase in trade over the past five years. Increasing the rail handling capacity will generate additional export and import trade volumes projected to reach more than $1 billion in value by 2015.
Yesterday United States Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee announced the Port of Grays Harbor would receive $2 million for the construction of auto terminal rail tracks to handle the growing auto export cargoes. The improvements will also accommodate the increasing agricultural product exports shipping through Grays Harbor.
Senator Murray’s announcement followed last week’s award from the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board of a $2 million, no interest loan to the Port for Phase 1 of rail improvements.
“Investing in rail capacity on Washington State’s Pacific Coast is the key to providing American shippers and producers with a direct route to our Pacific trading partners,” expressed Port of Grays Harbor Commission President Jack Thompson. “This project directly creates strong, marine related jobs in our community while improving our Nation’s position in the global marketplace.”
The Pasha Group, a diversified global transportation services and logistics company headquartered in Corte Madera, California, announced in December that the Chrysler Group LLC had selected their automotive facilities at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington, to support their export vehicle requirements from the Pacific Northwest to selected destinations in Asia. Since January, Grays Harbor has processed and shipped more than 10,000 Chrysler automobiles to countries throughout the Pacific Rim.
In March, AG Processing Inc, the largest soybean meal cooperative in the United States, announced expansion plans for their Grays Harbor operations. This summer the company began construction on their $60 million storage facility and plans to open in 2012. Combined these cargoes are projected to create more than 100 jobs and retain more than 110 jobs on the Grays Harbor waterfront.
“President Obama has emphasized that increasing American exports is vital to stimulating our national economy and the Port of Grays Harbor is positioned to play a major role for American exports, but rail is critical to our customers’ and our community’s growth,” reports Gary Nelson, Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director. “Senator Murray’s announcement, and the commitment of the CERB financing, means we are on track to construct the additional rail needed to meet today’s demand and accommodate future cargo growth. This news has positive short-term and long-term impacts.”
The Port of Grays Harbor is Washington’s only deep-water port located directly on the Pacific Coast and is a central Pacific Northwest location, with strong transportation connections. Inland rail connections are provided to both Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railroads through Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad – a division of RailAmerica.
“We are a rural community with limited financial resources of our own so we must rely on state, federal and private partners for major investments like this. Our next step is to apply for USDOT TIGER II funds for the remaining funding required for build out of the Pacific Northwest Coastal Export Corridor Rail Improvements,” states Mr. Nelson. “Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad has been an excellent partner in planning these rail improvements and they have committed their own funds to expanding capacity along the coastal corridor.”
The Port of Grays Harbor operates 4 deepwater marine terminals and hundreds of acres of marine industrial property. Only 1 1/2 vessel hours from open sea, Grays Harbor offers rail and highway access to markets throughout North America. More information and photographs of the marine terminal site are available on their website at portofgraysharbor.com.
“Investing in rail capacity on Washington State’s Pacific Coast is the key to providing American shippers and producers with a direct route to our Pacific trading partners.”