Construction for the deepening of the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel to its fully authorized depth of -38 feet MLLW will get underway in 2015 as $8 million for this critical project was included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2015 (FY2015) work plan that was released Tuesday. President Barack Obama’s FY2016 budget also included $7 million for completing the deepening.
Grays Harbor, one of the fastest growing export ports on the West Coast, has had an increasing surge in cargo volumes with vessel traffic increasing more than 300% over the past five years. This increase is due to the proximity of the Port to the Pacific Ocean and expanding export markets on the Pacific Rim. With 90% of Grays Harbor shipping activity being export, the Port is a strong contributor to the U.S. balance of trade.
“This expansion is exciting to the soybean industry,” said Director of Marketing Programs at Minnesota Soybean, Sam Ziegler. “This will benefit soybean and soybean meal exports with Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) by fully utilizing the ship’s capacity.”
The deepening of the channel will keep U.S. grown and manufactured products competitive in the growing Pacific Rim trade.
In 1977, the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel was authorized by Congress to a depth of -38 feet MLLW. Phase 1 of the construction was completed in 1991 which improved the depth to -36 feet MLLW. Efforts to begin Phase 2 and deepen the channel to -38 feet began in 2007. In August 2014, USACE Brigadier General John Kem of the Northwestern Division signed the Record of Decision (ROD), officially recommending deepening the channel to -38 feet MLLW.
The Port of Grays Harbor is working with the State of Washington to cost-share the $4.575 million for the expansion project. The State had previously cost-shared Phase 1 of Deeper Draft. Phase 2 is expected is begin Fall 2015.
The Minnesota Soybean Reasearch & Promotion Council has invested checkoff dollars into Grays Harbor in the past to open up new avenues for Minnesota soybeans to get to international customers.
Port of Grays Harbor was founded in 1911 and is one of Washington State’s oldest port districts and Washington’s only deep-water port located directly on the Pacific Ocean. The Port is located midway between Seattle and Portland and less than 1 ½ hour from open sea.