Tidewater To Expand Barge Service Following $4.1 Million MarAd Award

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd) has awarded $4.1 million to Tidewater Barge Lines Inc. for the acquisition of equipment to expand the company’s regional barge service on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. With Tidewater providing close to $2 million in matching funds, the MarAd grant will help add two new low- and zero-emission cranes to boost Tidewater’s capacity for loading solid waste containers on barges bound from southwestern Washington to eastern Oregon.

“This award will allow Tidewater to barge thousands of additional containers that would otherwise be trucked along the region’s congested highway system,” Tidewater President and CEO Todd Busch said. “This federal investment will help meet regional transportation demands and reduce emissions by supporting new clean technology to expand our barge service, which is the cleanest, safest and most fuel-efficient form of transportation.

“I would like to thank the Maritime Administration and our members of the Washington and Oregon congressional delegation for all their work to make this project a reality,” Busch added.

That delegation included Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Rep. Cliff Bentz of Oregon.

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“Over the past two years, we’ve seen just how important our supply chains are to keeping prices down in Washington state,” Murray said. “That’s exactly why I worked so hard to help secure these dollars to help keep goods flowing to families and keep costs down, all while cutting emissions. At the end of the day, this is going to make a major difference to cut emissions, create good-paying jobs and continue to build a strong economy in Washington state.”

“This clean energy investment is great news for our region and fits perfectly with the largest-ever investment in clean energy that I was proud to author in the Inflation Reduction Act,” Wyden said.

The grant was awarded through MarAd’s America’s Marine Highway Grant Program. Other partners on the project include Clark County, Wash., the Port of Morrow, Ore., and Waste Connections. The additional equipment will allow Tidewater to grow annual barge service by an estimated 3,000 containers. Diverting that amount of containers to barge will slash truck trips by more than a million miles and cut carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 5,776 metric tons per year.

The funding will help add an electric container dock crane at Tidewater’s terminal in Vancouver, Wash., that will load and unload containers 25 percent faster than the current equipment. The grant will also allow Tidewater to add a low emissions crawler crane for its second dock in Boardman, Ore. Along with an existing gantry crane, the new crawler crane will double annual throughput capacity. This year’s grant will build on prior grants that MarAd has awarded to the Port of Morrow and Tidewater in 2019 and 2020.