Newport’s yet to be fully built-out International Terminal has a very bright future ahead of it, according to a consulting firm hired by the port to assess a possible business plan for the facility.
When first envisioned, the terminal was going to be set-up primarily for shipping raw logs to China, Japan and other Far Eastern cities. But, in the interim, demand for raw logs has subsided significantly. As a result, the consultant recommended that the terminal be prepared to diversify the kinds of commodities shipped overseas – like agricultural products and wood by-products. The consultant said there is a good opportunity for the terminal to become a major export center for such cargo because the Port of Portland lost a lot of contracts last year due to labor problems, the Port of Tacoma is trying to pick up that slack but is often back-logged on shipments and Astoria remains a player but it’s not an ideal facility to work with.
But the International Terminal is not without its own unique issues – like no direct access to rail freight service. There’s also Yaquina Bay’s 35 foot draft depth – the bare minimum for large ships. And of course Highway 20’s twisty curvy roadway being a time waster for truck deliveries. Of course a lot of that lost time will be eliminated this Fall when the new Highway 20 bypass is finally completed, eliminating up to 15 minutes of drive-time between Newport and the Valley. The faster commute time will be just about equal to driving Highway 18 between Lincoln City and the Valley.
So the next step, according to the consultant, is figuring out a financial plan for the terminal. Such a plan will require no small amount of value engineering which needs to build flexible cargo handling capabilities into the terminal’s overall operations.
And then there is the relationship between the Port and the Rondy’s property just to the east of the terminal. Dredging will be required along that stretch of the river as well – but when it will be done and with what money is still unknown at this point. The Port has some funds in the bank but the entire project will need further help from state or federal grants. Some analysis will be required to ensure the dredge spoils brought to the surface and disposed of meet environmental standards.
In the meantime, veteran shipping services operator Teevin Brothers says they’re still “all in” on the terminal and can be expected to ante up a lot of product handling machinery that loads and unloads ships.
The next step on the money part appears to be acquiring more state or federal grants to help the Port pay for more dredging at the terminal and at the Rondy’s property just to the east. The Port is pursuing those grants in earnest. The Port recently won a large grant as “a starter kit” to attract more “matching money” from other government sources.