Image for CFM Helps Port of Morrow Capture 2nd Barge Service Grant

With the help of CFM, the Port of Morrow has won a $3.2 million award to expand barge service between Vancouver and its terminal in Eastern Oregon. It was the second major grant the Port has received this year.

The grant to the Port of Morrow and Tidewater Barge Lines, Inc. comes from the US Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Marine Highway program, a competitive pot of funding that the Port is eligible to pursue because of a Project Designation previously approved by MARAD. One of only eight awards made by MARAD nationwide, the Port of Morrow’s $3.2 million grant was the largest award by nearly $1 million. 

The Port received another Marine Highway grant in January for $1.6 million (also the largest award in that round) to increase barge service on the Columbia River. Tidewater will use the newly awarded grant funds to acquire a specially designed barge capable of transporting different-sized solid waste containers, creating a new service that otherwise would be uneconomical. Moving solid waste from urban areas by barge will reduce highway truck trips.

CFM was able to pinpoint an appropriate funding source, outline a roadmap for the Port to become an eligible grant recipient, develop competitive proposals and successfully advocate for the awards.

CFM’s federal affairs team assisted the Port gain eligibility for MARAD funding and led the effort to pursue both grants. Knowing the Port’s desire to expand barge service and necessary infrastructure, CFM was able to pinpoint an appropriate funding source, outline a roadmap for the Port to become an eligible grant recipient, develop competitive proposals and successfully advocate for the awards. In addition to helping the Port write applications for both its project designation and grant requests, CFM led efforts for the Port to convey the benefits of investing in the project to MARAD and Oregon’s congressional delegation.

“This grant will directly support increased barge service through the Port of Morrow, helping grow the economy and create family wage jobs here in eastern Oregon,” said Ryan Neal, Executive Director, Port of Morrow. “As the Project Sponsor, the Port was proud to support this grant request, which hinged on the strong public-private partnership between our community and Tidewater Barge Lines. I would like to thank the congressional delegation for its help securing this grant, and continued support of our efforts to expand barge service along the Columbia River.”

Designed to expand the use of inland waterways for freight movement, MARAD’s highly competitive Marine Highway program requires applicants to meet a series of eligibility requirements before applying for grant funds. The Port of Morrow successfully competed for a project designation by MARAD last August, making it one of just 34 projects approved under the Marine Highway Program, and only one of three projects on the West Coast. 

“After working with the Port of Morrow to make its eligible for these grants, I am thrilled to see the Port receive this vital funding,” Senator Jeff Merkley said. “With this assistance, the Port, which is Oregon’s second-largest, will be able to raise its capacity and continue serving Oregon for years to come.”

“This Marine Highway grant award allows us to acquire a new barge specially designed for expanding container service from our facilities in Vancouver to the Port of Morrow,” said Todd Busch, President & CEO, Tidewater Barge Lines. “By utilizing the Columbia River’s underused ‘Marine Highway 84’, this expansion in service will provide benefits throughout the Pacific Northwest by mitigating highway congestion, reducing air emissions and increasing economic activity.”

Despite its rural location, the Port of Morrow serves as the primary point for freight distribution, export and value-added production of agricultural products in the region. The Port’s excellent freight distribution network ensures goods and commodities can be shipped cost-effectively via rail, barge and truck. Access to the Port of Portland and Port of Vancouver within one-half day provides global market access for products transported to and from the Port of Morrow.  

The Port of Morrow has been represented by CFM at the federal level since the fall of 2017. These most recent awards from MARAD comes on the heels of a successful effort CFM led to secure a separate $19.4 million BUILD grant from the US Department of Transportation to expand the Port’s rail network. Between these three awards, the Port has received $24.2 million in federal funds since enlisting CFM’s federal affairs services. 

Kirby Garrett is CFM’s Vice President, Federal Affairs. He joined CFM after working for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden in Washington, DC. Kirby played a lead role in assisting the Port of Morrow.