Port project that makes sense for Coos Bay – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
A proposal for a container port at Coos Bay would improve port capacity, benefit the entire West Coast and give the Oregon Coast a much-needed economic boost. The project makes sense in a way that the now-retired pipeline and natural gas export facility never did, and the Biden administration is expected to provide the funding requested by Oregon lawmakers.
We did not support the Jordan Cove project, which would have built a gas pipeline in southern Oregon so that a Canadian company could export processed liquefied natural gas to an earthquake and tsunami zone with little benefit to Oregonians. But Coos Bay still needs an economic boost. Shipping container handling will provide this without the drawbacks of exporting gas and with several advantages.
Existing ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Seattle, Tacoma and Oakland handle more than 23 million shipping containers annually. They are among the 10 busiest ports in the country, but they have suffered delays and labor shortages during the pandemic. They also struggled with a lack of trucking capacity as ships piled up offshore waiting to unload containers laden with goods from around the world.
Trucking would not be an issue with Coos Bay, as the port is served by a rail line owned and operated by the Port of Coos Bay. The line sat idle for four years before the port bought it and reopened it to freight traffic in 2011. Improvements to the line since then have increased the speed of trains and therefore the time needed to transport freight from the coast to Eugene. Federal grants helped with this work as well as repairing tunnels along the 134-mile route.
A Coos Bay container port would be the first ship-to-rail operation on the West Coast, offering the opportunity to increase port capacity without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Plans for the port include electrical power generated from renewable sources that would power cargo handling equipment and vehicle charging, and allow ships to avoid running their engines to generate power , significantly reducing emissions while in port.
The port is already working with NorthPoint Development, a Missouri company, to expand the port to handle more than one million containers a year.
Oregon lawmakers have written to President Joe Biden asking for a share of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help develop the port. We can’t think of a better use of infrastructure funds than a project that would create jobs in a struggling coastal town, benefit the West Coast as a whole as well as the rest of the country, and do an environmentally friendly way.
The White House is expected to give Oregon’s request prompt and favorable consideration.