The Port of Longview was awarded a $16 million federal grant last week to expand its congested industrial rail corridor. It was the fifth time the Port applied for federal financial assistance for the project, and the first time with assistance by CFM Advocates..
Originally constructed in 2004, the rail corridor connects the Port’s eight deepwater berths with a Class 1 rail mainline. The corridor improvement enticed construction of one the nation’s largest and most modern grain terminals in Longview. The success of the two-track corridor has generated high demand and sharply increased congestion.
The federal grant will combine with $37.5 million in local funding to extend the length of the existing two tracks and add an adjacent six-track bed for rail car storage. The improvements will enble the Port to accommodate 100-car unit trains and double the corridor’s capacity while reducing congestion, increasing efficiency and providing space for future expansion.
“This transformative project aligns well with the infrastructure objectives of the Biden Administration”
“This transformative project aligns well with the infrastructure objectives of the Biden Administration, highlighting that alignment within the application and throughout our advocacy efforts was critical.” explains CFM Vice President David Hodges, who shaped and led the successful advocacy effort for the Port. “The entire congressional delegation was firmly supportive of the IRCE, particularly Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell who has championed these types of freight and rail improvement investments and who serves as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.”
Only 63 capital grants were awarded nationwide from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which were announced last week by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The Port of Longview’s award was one of only three capital grant recipients in Washington state. Two projects in Oregon were funded.
RAISE grants invest in road, rail, transit and port projects. The program’s infrastructure priorities often reflect that of the current Administration and was known as BUILD under the Trump Administration and TIGER under the Obama Administration. Since 2009, RAISE/BUILD/TIGER programs have invested $3.8 billion in 345 projects, leveraging $6.8 billion in total infrastructure investments. The federal Department of Transportation received more than 10,400 applications seeking $185 billion. CFM has now secured five discretionary, merit-based transportation infrastructure awards for its Pacific Northwest clients since 2017.
Advocacy materials developed by Hodges emphasized enhanced safety at congested freight intersections in Longview, increased operating efficiences, redevelopment of a grain export terminal shuttered in the 1980s and improved access to the Port’s eight berths and its undeveloped 282-acre Barlow Point site.
The RAISE grant website describes the Port of Longview’s project benefits as:
“The project would improve safety on the rail line by providing for inspection roads on both sides of each track to allow for trains to be fully inspected for safety issues prior to further movement as the port currently lacks this ability today. Quality of life benefits are demonstrated by the applicant screening for and identifying benefits to environmental justice communities located near the project. By allowing unit trains to service other terminals within the port without having to be cut into more manageable lengths or stored while awaiting processing, the project will provide additional operational efficiency. The project would provide increased access to employment and freight for the environmental justice communities identified. Partnership benefits would be generated through collaboration with Washington State Department of Transportation, BNSF and UPRR railroads, Cowlitz County, Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Government, the Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and City of Longview.”