Rail cars may lift port revenue, Lewiston Tribune, April 14, 2016

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Port of Lewiston exploring possibility of providing storage to rail cars not needed in N. Dakota oil fields


Rail car storage could bring the Port of Lewiston $4,500 a month in new revenue.

The idea surfaced Wednesday at a Port of Lewiston Commission meeting. The port could receive $3 per day for each of the 50 cars it would have room for on 2,400 feet of tracks in its North Lewiston port district, Port Manager David Doeringsfeld said.

The tracks are on Third Avenue North between 12th and 18th streets, and Sixth Avenue North between 12th and 15th streets, in an area not visible from the river.

The cars are typically used to haul nonhazardous materials, such as lumber or fracking sand, which is used in the oil fields of North Dakota. Doeringsfeld said a need for places to leave rail cars has emerged since plummeting oil prices have slowed production in the oil fields.

Exactly how soon the cars could arrive in Lewiston is not clear. Doeringsfeld said he is only in the initial stages of discussions on the plan.

The commissioners expressed support for the idea without taking a vote, and don’t plan one in the future. The port has an obligation to the taxpayers to generate revenue, Port Commission President Mike Thomason said.

“It’s not going to be an eyesore,” Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl said.

Finding new ways to make money is important to the port because it ceased shipping containers to Portland, Ore., about a year ago after ocean-going carriers for containers stopped calling on the Oregon port.

Commissioners listened to a report Wednesday about containers going from the port to Puget Sound while container service is suspended in Portland. The containers are loaded onto barges in Lewiston and transferred to trains in Boardman, Ore., which take them to Puget Sound.

Eighteen containers left the port in January using the route. Another 10 followed in February. There weren’t any in March, when barge traffic was closed most of the month for annual maintenance at dams on the Snake and Columbia river system. Port officials don’t yet have an estimate for April.

The port is hoping those numbers grow and is trying to improve the logistics. As many as 40 containers are going to be stockpiled at the Port of Lewiston, available for same-day pickup by customers. Until now, the containers had to be ordered and could take as long as two weeks to reach the port.

In other business Wednesday:

– Officials heard an update about modular buildings that American Alloy is assembling at the port. The first and largest of five buildings is expected to be moved from the construction site to the port dock today in three crane maneuvers. It will be moved from the dock to a barge on Friday. Submarines will be decommissioned in the buildings after they are shipped to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.

– Commissioners approved a three-year lease for the LC Ice Arena. The lease starts at $3,500 a month and increases once a year, with a final rate of $4,268 per month, close to market value for the space that’s almost 16,000 square feet. The port and not-for-profit group that operate the rink have been working together to raise the lease rate as the operation becomes more financially sustainable.

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