Port of Lewiston’s new dock is open for business

Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:00 am

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune |

A 150-foot barge was moored this week at the Port of Lewiston, waiting to be filled with containers of lentils and dried peas.

Thanks to a 150-foot extension added to the 120-foot dock as part of a $2.8 million expansion, crews will be able to load the vessel without moving it, said Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.

“We’re much more productive and efficient,” Doeringsfeld said of the dock extension.

The port unveiled the improvements this week. The dock is equipped for the port’s traditional customers – Clearwater Paper ships wood products, and farmers move agricultural commodities. But it was also designed with the needs of a new market the port is pursuing: megaload haulers.

A bumper can be removed from one section of the dock, making it easier to remove huge objects from barges on trailers instead of hoisting them with a crane, the method used for loading containers.

In addition to what the project offers customers, the upgrade makes the port’s operation safer, Doeringsfeld said. Boats don’t have to be jockeyed as much. When they do, crews aren’t depending on their own strength and ropes.

“We have a winch system,” he said. “The operator in the crane can move the barge up and down the face of the dock.”

The crane used to only be able to travel along less than 75 feet of the dock.

“That just wasn’t a very safe working space in trying to position containers for loading,” Doeringsfeld said.

The crane now has about 250 feet to work. And if a crew member accidentally falls into the river, Doeringsfeld said there’s a ladder to climb out of the water.

The grade of the entire dock has been changed so that stormwater is now funneled toward a catchbasin instead of pooling on the dock, which can freeze and create a hazard in cold weather.

Even with all the features, general contractor Advanced American Construction managed to finish about $200,000 under budget, leaving room for a few extras, like more paving.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the final project,” Doeringsfeld said.

And while it was a Portland, Ore.-based company that won the contract, Advanced American Construction employed a number of area business as subcontractors. Among them were Western Construction and Excavation, Poe Asphalt, Apex, Collier Electric and United Contracting.

Now that the construction crews are gone, the port’s work starts.

In landing $1.3 million in federal money for the dock upgrade, the port projected its business would grow from the present rate of 333 containers per month to 1,333 containers per month by 2023. That increase, according to the port, would create 48 jobs.

The port hasn’t landed any new customers yet, but Doeringsfeld said they should emerge once the port launches its marketing effort.

“That’s one of my priorities now that the dock is completed,” he said. “We have a new asset to be able to offer the region … We have to go knock on doors.”

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