Grays Harbor to Increase Rail Capacity on Washington’s Coast
February 2011 - Port of Grays Harbor Commissioners authorized an $11 million rail construction project to Rognlin’s, Inc. Combined with the recently completed first phase rail project, the Port of Grays Harbor is adding more than 36,000 feet of rail capacity in the marine complex to accommodate growing automobile and grain export volumes.
A rural port district on Washington State’s Pacific Coast is demonstrating how their unique transportation links between American producers and growing international markets can stimulate the economy. With export shipping volumes up 85% over 2009 volumes, the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington, is making strategic investments in rail and marine capacity to ensure their position in global shipping markets. On Tuesday, Commissioners awarded an $11 million contract to Rognlin’s, Inc to construct additional rail as phase two of an overall $18 million rail improvement plan to increase capacity at this deep-water shipping port.
Although forest products comprise an important part of the Port of Grays Harbor cargo mix, other products like dry agricultural products and automobiles are now the volume leaders through this Pacific Coast port. Export volumes of soybean meal and DDGs topped one million metric tons in 2010, while at the same time Grays Harbor became the west coast export hub for Chrysler automobiles, accounting for one-third of all exports through the US West Coast. The American-made products all arrive via rail to the Port’s docks.
“For Grays Harbor, rail construction mean jobs,” reports Commission President Jack Thompson. “Increasing export volumes are creating jobs on the waterfront and on the rail lines and roads delivering cargo to and from the docks. It is important that the Port continue to invest in our public infrastructure to accommodate our customers’ growth needs.”
Local job creation doesn’t stop at the waterfront. With the award of the contract to the apparent low bidder, Rognlin’s Inc, the project will also create local construction jobs. Rognlin’s is headquartered in Aberdeen.
“Construction of this rail system is the single largest investment the Port has made for more than twenty years,” reflected Commissioner Chuck Caldwell. “What better time than in our 100th year as a port district to make an investment that will position our community in international markets for decades to come.”
Grays Harbor is served by the only active rail system to the coast in Oregon and Washington. A unique feature of the line is the dual access to both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe class one railroads. Through these connections, Grays Harbor’s shipping terminals become linked to all markets throughout North America. Operated by Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad, the Pacific Northwest Coastal Freight Corridor links AGP’s Midwest growers with their shipping facilities in Grays Harbor.
Founded in 1911, the Port of Grays Harbor is one of Washington State’s oldest port districts. The Port of Grays Harbor operates 4 deepwater marine terminals and hundreds of acres of marine industrial property. Only 1-½ vessel hours from open sea, Grays Harbor offers rail and highway access to markets throughout North America. More information and photographs are available at portofgraysharbor.com.