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Posted on: October 13, 2020

Port Secures $6.85 Million Federal Grant in Support of Working Waterfront

The Port has been awarded a $6.85 Million U.S. Department of Transportation Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) Grant to upgrade the Bellingham Shipping Terminal, increase trade and commerce, and restore working waterfront jobs.

“This is great news for our working waterfront” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix.  “The grant funding will allow us to modernize our Shipping Terminal to accommodate a much wider range of vessels and cargoes, and offer a viable shipping alternative to the crowded Canadian ports just north of Whatcom County.  Increasing trade and commerce at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal will create working waterfront, family-wage jobs and support state-wide, Covid-19 related economic recovery efforts.”  

“Congratulations to the Port of Bellingham for putting together this timely and well-developed proposal to improve the Bellingham Shipping Terminal,” said Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, who supported the grant application. “These upgrades will make the Port more competitive, grow new family-wage jobs and create business opportunities which did not exist before. This is a win for our community.”

Grant funds will be used to complete a wide range of improvements to the Shipping Terminal including reinforcement of a “heavy-load” receiving area at the main berth allowing a wider range of cargoes.  The PIDP Grant will also be used to remove navigation high spots, which have accumulated in front of the Shipping Terminal allowing deeper draft vessels to tie safely up alongside the dock.  

One of the most innovative use of these funds will be the rehabilitation of a barge loading facility to accommodate increasing customer demand for the domestic coastwise and cross sound transportation of cargoes using this traditional form of ocean freight. 

“Barging is a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to transport by truck and rail, which are increasingly challenged by road congestion and decreasing service levels” said the Port’s Marine Terminals Business Development Manager Chris Clark.  “Having a barge loading and unloading facility with plenty of upland support area is a key market differentiator for the Port of Bellingham.”      

One of the Port's existing customers will see increased efficiency as soon as the improvements are complete.  A multi-year project to repair the Columbia River jetty will benefit when Armor Rocks no longer have to be loaded onto barges over the Shipping Terminal’s main pier.

The Bellingham Shipping Terminal remains the Port’s biggest potential job-creating asset.  One of which are the International Longshoreman & Warehousemen Union (ILWU) members who provide valuable cargo moving services, and are supportive of these efforts to further revitalize the Shipping Terminal. The terminal improvements will accommodate the needs of today’s modern shipping industry and position Whatcom County for new family-wage, working waterfront jobs.  

“This grant is a welcome contribution to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal’s continued growth and diversification” said Clark. 

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