Lewiston Port Manager David Doeringsfeld appeared in Business Profile in January 2012.
Business Profile caught up with Doeringsfeld via email after what has been an eventful year at the port. Container shipping ground to a halt in April for the first time since the port began handling them in 1978. The suspension of service came after a key overseas shipper stopped calling at the Port of Portland.
Business Profile: What’s the status of container traffic at the port?
David Doeringsfeld: Container service is back. Several ports and transportation providers recently worked together to resume container service. Containers loaded at the Port of Lewiston are barged to the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Ore., where they travel by rail to the Port of Tacoma or Seattle and onward to international markets.
Agriculture is a significant part of our local economy, and the Port of Lewiston is proud of its long-standing partnership with the industry. We believe the barge-rail transportation option can help alleviate some of the shipping challenges our local farmers are experiencing until container service returns at the Port of Portland.
BP: What benefits will the community see from the telecommunications network the port is installing?
DD: The fiber optic network will pave the way for improved access to high-speed Internet. This infrastructure project will ultimately help local businesses stay competitive in a global marketplace increasingly reliant on fast and efficient technology. The community will see additional Internet providers in the market, improved redundancy and bandwidth.
BP: What’s the port’s role in that network and what’s the private sector’s role?
DD: The port will construct and own the fiber optic lines. The fiber optic lines are open access, which means any Internet provider can lease fiber lines from the port and provide services to their customers. We are working with the Port of Whitman County to implement this proven business model, which they expanded upon over the last decade.
BP: What are the biggest challenges facing the port?
DD: Our biggest challenge is communicating everything we do for the taxpayers we serve. Readers can sign up for e-news at portoflewiston.com. The port is in a strong financial position and well-positioned to promote local jobs. We are excited about all our initiatives, including expanding broadband, preparing industrial properties for new private sector tenants, serving farmers and supporting river commerce.
BP: The upgrades at the dock that were finished in 2013 cost $2.8 million in taxpayer money. How did they improve the business climate in the region?
DD: The dock extension greatly improves the productivity, efficiency and safety of dock operations. It also diversifies the types of cargo the port can handle such as break bulk (non-containerized) and roll-on/roll-off cargos. For example, Clearwater Paper has contacted the port about using the dock to deliver new digester components. The port is also working with American Alloy to construct equipment for the U.S. Navy at Bremerton, Wash. The equipment is currently under construction near the dock and will be shipped this spring using the new dock. Outside businesses have looked at relocating to our area because of interest in the dock, its capabilities and access to the river system. The dock extension provides an important community asset that supports attracting and retaining businesses.
BP: Some groups continue to favor removing the four lower Snake River dams. What’s the Port’s stance?
DD: The Port of Lewiston Commission is opposed to the removal of the lower Snake River dams. The multiuse benefits of the dams on the Columbia/Snake river system are integral to our regional economy and quality of life. Dams are an important source of carbon-free power, and barging has the lowest exhaust emissions of all transportation modes.
We are all concerned about salmon recovery, and that is why ports throughout the Pacific Northwest have advocated for recovery efforts. We want to leave a legacy of economic growth, clean hydropower and salmon recovery.
BP: How likely is it that megaloads taking up two lanes of traffic will be handled at the Port of Lewiston in the future?
DD: It is unlikely that oil refinery modules similar to the Exxon project will be off-loaded at the Port of Lewiston. There are now manufacturing companies in Montana constructing modules. There could be an occasional pressure vessel that is more than 16 feet in width.
Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.