Massive barge, dock work has Port of Lewiston hopping

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | 0 comments

Lewiston Port Manager David Doeringsfeld hopes the activity at a container dock in the Clearwater River this week offers a glimpse into the future.

Crews from Tote Logistics in Tacoma are loading an ocean-going barge with 39 housing modules from Stratford Homes in Rathdrum, Idaho.

Just west of where they’re working, piles are being driven for an expansion of the Port of Lewiston dock, from 125 feet to 275 feet in length.

“You’ve got the coordination of two projects side by side,” Doeringsfeld said.

Once the dock extension is finished, Doeringsfeld said he would like to see a container barge being loaded on one part of the dock while cargo for megaloads arrives or departs on the other.

Shipments from Stratford Homes might be a part of that additional business Doeringsfeld hopes to capture.

The dormitory components are in the middle of a journey that started in Rathdrum, where they were loaded onto trucks and driven south for about three and a half hours on the highway, according to Bill King, Tote Logistics’ project logistics manager.

Components have been arriving at the Port of Lewiston since early June. Starting Tuesday, they were being trucked across an asphalt area near the port’s dock and placed on pedestals prior to being hoisted by a crane onto a barge, where they were stacked two high. The instant one unit left the pedestals, another was being set in the staging area.

At about 400 feet long and 76 feet wide, the barge is about double the size of the river barges that typically move containers out of Lewiston, Doeringsfeld said.

The dormitory components will travel all the way to Alaska on the same barge instead of being handled the way most cargo leaving Lewiston does – stopping in Portland, Ore., to be shifted to a bigger boat.

The water portion of the trip will likely last about 11 days, and King said the living units will be delivered at their destination July 29 in Seward, Alaska.

This is the first time King has used the Port of Lewiston, opting for the Idaho transportation hub over the Port of Seattle because it was easier to schedule the truck shipments.

“We could move them seven days a week in Idaho,” he said. “Washington was much more restrictive.”

In Alaska, the modules will be configured into a three-story dormitory for Alaska Vocational Technical College, said John Davis, vice president and general manager of Stratford Building. The rooms are supposed to be ready for occupancy by late November or early December.

The modules are painted, carpeted and equipped with cabinets for students to store their belongings, Davis said. They either have one bathroom and two bedrooms or two bathrooms and four bedrooms.

The schedule was set to get the units to Alaska during the summer building season before the snow flies.

“So far everything has gone really smooth,” King said.

And while Stratford isn’t doing lots of large jobs where the Port of Lewiston can be helpful, Davis said that might be a possibility moving forward.

“This is something we don’t do everyday,” he said, “but I’d like to do more of it.”

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