Home Back Issues October 2010 Industries ready for river shutdown

Industries ready for river shutdown

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
1010_ATS06
This lock on the lower Monumental Dam will be closed for repairs starting in early December. // PHOTO COURTESY USACE

Three navigation locks along the Columbia and Snake rivers will close in December for the longest period ever, prompting the grain industry to adapt and the barge lines to plan layoffs.

Every year the navigation locks along the Columbia and Snake River close for two weeks for routine maintenance, but this year’s closure will last for 14 weeks. The Dalles, John Day and Lower Monumental locks are being replaced at a cost of more than $42 million funded in part by the American Recovering and Reinvestment Act. Engineers are concerned about mechanical failure of the 50-year-old equipment. The maintenance effectively closes off the entire inland system, which pressures producers and exporters to adapt

Portland-based Shaver Transportation is using its 16 grain barges for storage during the closure and laying off the crews who operate them. Tidewater Barge Lines, based in Vancouver, generates 85% of its revenue above The Dalles. Out of 17 barge tugs, only two will be active. “We are going to be laying off right through the organization,” says Tidewater spokesman John Pigott. The barge lines want to move product before the closure.

Approximately 75% of all white wheat is moved by barge because the Columbia River flows through the primary growing regions. Industry leaders have been planning for the closure for more than a year. Some producers will use alternative transportation methods such as rail and truck, but most are trying to ship their grain early. “A little bit of everything will get the job done,” says Steve Wirsching with the U.S. Wheat Association.

However, shipping the grain early leads to storage capacity problems. “We are trying to accumulate as many loaded barges as we can get prior to the closure,” says Portland-based Columbia Grain’s CEO Tom Hammond. Columbia Grain has a total storage capacity of 4 million bushels and loads approximately 300 barges a year. The closure will cut about 25% of those barges from the schedule, but Columbia Grain will continue to load rail cars and trucks. Mid Columbia Producers will continue to load barges from its elevator located on the west side of The Dalles.

Those involved are working to minimize the length of the closure, maximize the maintenance completed and maintain the supply of goods. It’s not a “doom-and-gloom situation,” says Rob Rich of Shaver Transportation. He understands the maintenance is critical and will keep the locks functional for another 50 to 70 years.

CORY MIMMS
 

More Articles

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

Gone Fishing

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LORI TOBIAS

Business has been good to Laura Anderson, leading some to suggest she must be awfully lucky to find such success in a business notorious for failure. But luck’s had little to do with it.


Read more...

Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

A Taste of Heaven

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 26, 2014
0926 iphone6-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

This post focuses on the recent release of the new Apple iPhone as well as Alibaba's IPO, the largest U.S. IPO in history.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS