Lewiston port: megaloads an option

Commissioners won’t rule out oversized loads as part of port’s marketing plan

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune The Lewiston Tribune

Megaloads continue to be a possibility as Port of Lewiston commissioners work on a plan to market the transportation hub in a way that supports job creation in Nez Perce County.

A preliminary draft reviewed by port commissioners Wednesday lists expanding break bulk cargo activity as the port’s first transportation objective.

Port of Lewiston Manager David Doeringsfeld said break bulk cargo includes anything that wouldn’t fit into a shipping container such as jet boats, wind blades, drill pipes and huge pieces of equipment that would be hauled as megaloads and take up two lanes of traffic on the region’s highways.

Even though megaloads are a kind of break bulk cargo, Doeringsfeld said the port is not actively pursuing them.

“We’re always open to any kind of product that wants to come through the port,” Commissioner Jerry Klemm said.

A second transportation objective for the port is to increase container volume by 10 percent by December 2015. Doeringsfeld said the strategy on how the port aims to achieve that goal would be discussed more at a future meeting.

“I’ve always appreciated a plan that has measureables in it, and we have to hold ourselves to that standard,” said Commissioner Mike Thomason.

The port is seeking new customers after a more-than-five-year slump in its container business that barges dried peas, lentils and garbanzo beans as well as paperboard from Lewiston to Portland, Ore. Once in Oregon, the goods are put on larger ships headed overseas.

In 2009, those volumes fell below 5,000 containers annually and have yet to rebound. That compares with a historic high of more than 15,000 containers a year from 1995 to 2000.

In addition to transportation, the marketing plan sets goals for economic development and communications, which so far are less specific than those for transportation. The port wants to maximize the use of its facilities to promote business development.

As the port tries to increase revenue, it’s also looking for ways to increase the public’s awareness about the role it plays in job creation and international trade. It plans to improve its marketing materials for print, Internet, video and radio, according to the plan draft.

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