New barge service provides much-needed relief for Oregon exporters

Nov 30, 2015, 3:01pm PST; Updated Nov 30, 2015, 3:05pm PST

The loss of container service in Portland has driven up shipping costs, forcing exporters to use trucks to send goods to Puget Sound to use container shipping services there. The barge-rail system is meant to address that by serving the ports of Lewiston, Morrow and Portland.

To remedy the region’s shipping crisis, container barge service has been reinstated along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

After losing nearly all its container shipping providers, the Port of Portland has joined a partnership to help importers and exporters in Oregon, Washington and Idaho move containerized agricultural products to and from markets in Asia.

The first barge is loading at the Port of Lewiston this week. Service will carry empty containers for cargo upriver and return full every two weeks, according to the Port of Portland.

In Boardman, commodities will be combined with Oregon agricultural and paper products and taken by rail to the Northwest Container Service yard in Portland.

Then, containers will stay in Portland for export through Terminal 6 on Westwood Shipping vessels or continue by rail to Seattle and Tacoma.

The Upriver Container BargeRail Shuttle is a partnership including Northwest Container Service, Tidewater Barge and the ports of Morrow, Lewiston and Portland.

The Port of Portland contributed $51,000 to help start the project. According to a statement from the Port of Portland, the shuttle service is expected to be self-sustaining by the second full month of service.

Once established, rail service from Boardman is expected to increase to weekly as more companies decide to participate.

Read the original article on the Portland Business Journal here.