Legislators should be reminded of channel project's importance
O'Hollaren and other supporters of channel deepening are going to the state Capitol next Tuesday to remind legislators of what this project means to the state's economic future. Given its great importance to the local economy, area residents would do well to help lobby lawmakers.
Deepening the shipping channel to 43 feet is critical to the future of ports along the lower Columbia River and the industries they help support. Bigger, more efficient cargo vessels will require that extra 3 feet of depth.
Indeed, large ships carrying grain from the Port of Kalama already are having to take on lighter loads to accommodate the river's 40-foot-deep channel.
This shipping trade along the Columbia River supports some 60,000 family wage jobs. If the trade is allowed to grow, the number of jobs will grow.
But, as supporters of channel deepening will communicate in Olympia next week, the benefits of this project are not confined to our region. They would accrue for all of the Pacific Northwest and, to a significant extent, the country as a whole.
The Columbia River is one of the nation's most important trade corridors. Cargo from more than 40 states regularly passes through ports along the lower Columbia. The value of waterborne cargo imported and exported at Columbia River ports exceeds $14 billion annually.
We remain optimistic that the dredging will begin early next year,
as expected. Too much is at stake to abandon this project.
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