Lewiston dock expansion work could begin in summer of 2013

Unknowns for port include decision by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, grant money

The yellow shaded area next to the existing cargo loading dock at the Port of Lewiston shows the downstream area where the dock would be expanded.

Monday, April 9, 2012 | By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune

The Port of Lewiston is getting a little closer to a $2.9 million expansion of its container dock, a project it initiated in 2007.

Plans are to begin the work in July 2013 and have it finished by September of that same year, said port Manager David Doeringsfeld. “It’s not that big or difficult a project.”

That schedule, however, depends on a number of variables falling into place.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received more than 50 public comments after it issued a draft finding of no significant impact, said Bruce Hendrickson, a spokesman for the corps in Walla Walla. That feedback will weigh into its final decision on the work.

At the same time, the Port of Lewiston is seeking a $1.3 million federal grant. The port has secured $350,000 in an Idaho rural block grant and will pay the remainder out of its own budget, Doeringsfeld said.

The port is looking at other grants and loans in case the federal money, which it has sought two other times, doesn’t materialize, Doeringsfeld said.

In past years hundreds have applied for less than 75 grants, Doeringsfeld said. “You’re hopeful, but you try to keep your expectations realistic. You have a very small chance of getting your project funded.”

The port wants to add 150 feet to a dock that is 125 feet. The additional length would enable the port to handle two container barges at the same time instead of one.

Container barges typically carry dried peas, lentils or garbanzo beans, or wood products such as paperboard. They go to Portland down the Snake and Columbia rivers. In Portland, they are transferred to ocean-going vessels that call on countries like Japan and China.

The dock extension would also make it easier for the port to accommodate megaloads. How many of the oversized shipments the port will handle in the future is not clear. As of this week, the Idaho Transportation Department indicated it hadn’t been contacted by any business wanting to use north central Idaho’s roads for rigs taking up two lanes of traffic.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.