Sponsored by Lane Powell

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

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

Closing the Gap: The two Oregons and the way forward

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."


Read more...

Live, Work, Play: Amen Teter

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Catching up with Amen Teter, Portland-based global director of action sports for Octagon Olympics & Action sports talent agency.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

The week journalism died

Linda Baker
Sunday, February 15, 2015
deadjournalismthumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...

Labor Pains

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Thinking about starting an internship program? Be careful. Navigating unpaid internships can be tricky.


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