Eye of the TIGER: Lewiston picks up grant for port improvements

Remember the TIGER grants? If you're a local government wonk, you do.

This federal money — from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — was the linchpin of Mayor Dave Bieter's bid to finance a Downtown Boise streetcar circular. Boise applied for a share of the 2010 federal grant, but when the city didn't make the cut, the streetcar project fizzled.

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced nearly $500 million in grants, and Lewiston was the only city to make the list this year.

The port of Lewiston will get $1.3 million to put toward a $2.9 million project to extend its dock from 120 feet to 150 feet, in order to streamline barge loading efforts.

From the DOT's report announcing the grants: "This project will increase the efficiency and productivity of port operations, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance safety for dock workers. One ton of cargo can travel 576 miles per gallon of fuel by barge, making barges the most fuel efficient mode of transportation. Reducing shipping costs and increasing exporter profitability will benefit the national economy and further the president’s initiative to double exports."

Words that won't sit well with environmentalists who were hoping for more support from the Obama administration. Environmental groups, who argue for breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river to a natural state, also argue that shipping from ports such as Lewiston can be replaced through rail or truck transport.

Get Twitter updates on my blog and column and Statesman editorials. Become a follower. You can also get updates on Facebook's Idaho Statesman Opinion Page.

More welfare for the Port of Lewiston

If the Port of Lewiston had to stand on its own two feet it would have been out of business years ago. Over the last ten years, barge shipments through the port have steadily declined to 20% of their historic high. The Port taxes the citizens of Nez Perce County $250,000.00 per year to help remain in business and now wants to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to expand their vastly underutilized dock.

This is nothing more than corporate welfare subsidized by we the taxpayers.


The Lower Snake river locks project is one giant Monument to Federalism long gone by. Without the enormous Federal subsidy this inland port idea would die quicker than a mayfly. Rail can address commodity shipping and the lumber industry is a fraction of it's former self and not due back any time soon. Here is a perfect example of Federal Spending, that has been institutionalize just because. The program does more harm than good...is too expensive and creates a false economy built on the dependence of FEDERAL taxpayer dollars. We could mitigate the impact to Lewiston / Clarkston...keep the "pool" in the area for recreation and eliminate the balance of the complex creating lots of opportunities within the free flowing Lower Snake.

Enjoy the Ride...there is no return ticket.

Davel, good post and add to

Davel, good post and add to the fact that the port is shallow -- understand it is only 14 feet -- what a waste of government $$. Note the 250 mega loads that were to go over US 12 have been cancelled. They would have come in via the port and all but eliminated other commerical and personal travel on 12. So why is the port getting this money when its use will be cut back. Pork barrel -- politics!