Farmers in northeast Oregon won't have to worry about having a reliable crane to load their products onto barges at the Port of Umatilla thanks to a $1 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced.
The grant will pay to complete the installation of the new crane, upgrade the electric supply system and expand the container storage area
on the port dock, the agency said. The crane will replace an aging gantry crane erected in the 1940's.
"It goes without saying the new crane will be faster and more reliable," said FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman. The new crane will nearly double the number of containers that can be loaded onto barges per hour, he said, and will be able to shoulder heavier loads. "It will mean the difference between night and day."
"This investment will give growers in the area the confidence they need to ship their goods on the Columbia River," Boardman added. Containers loaded at the port are shipped downriver to the Port of Portland where they are transferred to ocean-going ships headed for Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong
, Taiwan and Thailand.
The grant is the second given to the port for the crane project
. Last year, FRA gave $2.7 million to get the replacement project under way.
The port handles value-added agricultural products such as alfalfa, dried grains, and frozen beef, vegetables and potatoes. It is located about 300 miles inland from Astoria on the Columbia River.