Grain Facility Boosts Traffic Through Longview Port

By Steve Brown, June 26, 2013, Capital Press

Bulk grains, logs, steel and wind energy cargo have helped increase the operating income at the Port of Longview by 20 percent in 2012.

Operating income increased $28 million in 2011 to nearly $34 million last year, continuing a steady climb since 2008 despite global economic pressures that have slowed growth in most business sectors.

“Our diversification has been the key to our sustained success,” said Geir-Eilif Kalhagen, who came on as the port’s chief executive officer last September.

After Seattle and Tacoma, Longview is the third-ranked port facility in the state.

Total tonnage grew from 2.2 million to 6.3 million tons, growth that Kalhagen attributed largely to the new export grain facility, Export Grain Terminal LLC, the first new grain terminal built in the U.S. in a quarter century. The state-of-the-art EGT facility has been a magnet creating new ag traffic from the Pacific Northwest’s wheat production region.

EGT is a largely automated operation, with 2,000 sensing devices monitored by its bank of computers. The system is capable of unloading six 110-car trains at any one time, without decoupling. Its 137 acres comprise 36 elevators and 10 miles of railroad track.

Ashley Helenberg, communications-public affairs manager at the port, said the port’s enhanced business will lead to more jobs along the whole supply chain.

It is courting other business developments and has received a lot of inquiries, she said.

One project is the redevelopment of Berth 4, once a facility for Continental Grain but defunct for more than 20 years.

The port is also entering the master planning phase for 275 acres of riverfront property four miles downriver from Longview, “on the deep-draft portion of the Columbia,” Helenberg said. The property previously was used for recreation until the port cleared and graded the land and contracted with a hay farmer.

“We’re looking to maximize its use,” she said, “whether that means one big tenant or more small tenants.”

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