Image for Port of Morrow Wins $1.6 million Grant to Expand Barge Service

The Port of Morrow has won a $1.6 million grant to expand barge service through its Eastern Oregon marine terminals, the second largest in Oregon. The award was one of only nine infrastructure projects nationwide funded by the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) in this round. It also was the largest grant.

CFM worked on behalf of the Port of Morrow to identify a funding source, outline a roadmap to become an eligible grant recipient, develop a competitive proposal and successfully advocate for the award. In addition to helping the Port write applications for both its project designation and grant request, CFM assisted the Port convey the benefits of investing in the project to MARAD and the Oregon congressional delegation.

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 in August of last year, making it one of just 34 projects approved under the Marine Highway Program, and only one of three projects on the West Coast. 

“Securing these funds was not a simple process,” said Port of Morrow Executive Director Ryan Neal. “I would like to express our thanks to Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden and Rep. Walden for going above and beyond with their support at every step of the process. With their help, the expanded barge service under this project will help create family-wage jobs in the region, reduce transportation costs and alleviate highway and rail congestion.”  

CFM has represented the Port of Morrow at the federal level since the fall of 2017. This most recent award 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.

Despite its rural location, the Port of Morrow contributes to the economic competitiveness of the state, Pacific Northwest region, and United States by serving 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 that goods and commodities can be cost-effectively shipped 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.  

MARAD grant funds will be used at two of the Port’s marine terminals, including dredging to reopen Terminal 1, which has been unusable for years due to sediment build-up. Increased barge service along the Columbia/Snake River system will reduce transportation costs, increase freight mobility, create jobs and reduce fuel consumption.

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