Lewiston port eyes dock extension

  • A public hearing on proposal is scheduled Wednesday

 By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune The Lewiston Tribune | October 15, 2011

Citizens will have an opportunity to share their views on a proposed expansion of a Port of Lewiston dock at a public hearing this week.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding the hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sacajawea Junior High at 3610 12th St., in Lewiston. It will be preceded by an open house at 6 p.m. in the same location, where corps employees will be available to answer questions about the project.

The port wants to add 150 feet to a dock that’s already 125 feet. At the same time, it would add a winch system to help position barges and gravel a nearby ground storage area.

The work is expected to cost $2.9 million. The port has landed a $500,000 grant from the state of Idaho and applied for $1.5 million from the federal government, according to an email from port manager Dave Doeringsfeld.

The port will cover whatever portion that’s not paid for by other sources with a mix of existing cash and loans, Doeringsfeld wrote.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and take about three months, Doeringsfeld wrote.

The port needs a permit from the corps because the arm of the federal government has jurisdiction for any work in navigable waters of the U.S., according to a corps news release about the meeting.

If the port wins approval, the upgrades will give it greater flexibility.

The expansion would make it possible for the port to handle two container barges at the same time, instead of one.

The 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, the cargo is transferred to ocean-going vessels that call on countries like Japan and China.

It would also help the port accommodate megaloads, something that has made the proposal a source of controversy in some circles.

The port noted it was seeking the upgrade before port officials knew they might play a pivotal role in getting huge pieces of oil processing equipment that are made overseas.

The items arrive in the United States at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., where they’re put on smaller barges that go to Lewiston, the easternmost point of navigation on the Columbia and Snake river systems. In Lewiston they’re transferred to trucks that sometimes take up two lanes of traffic and are hauled to destinations in Canada or the United States.

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

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