Legislation Includes $15M
Congress has taken the first step to continue funding the Columbia River channel-deepening project in 2006, Congressman Brian Baird announced Thursday.
Baird, D-Wash, said $15 million for channel deepening is in the House Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2006, which the House Appropriations Committee passed this week. The measure still needs full House and Senate approval before going to President George Bush for his signature.
"This project is important because it enables our port communities to remain competitive and continue delivering Washington's goods around the world," said Baird, who represents Southwest Washington.
The $148 million project involves increasing the depth of the shipping lanes from 40 feet to 43 feet from the river's mouth to Portland. The channel is no longer deep enough to handle the largest cargo freighters, some of which now must leave less than fully-loaded, lower river port officials say.
"Transporting goods in and out of our region's ports fuels local job growth and economic development," Baird said.
More than 40,000 local jobs with an average annual wage of $46,000 are dependent on Columbia River maritime commerce, according to an analysis by the Port of Portland.
"I will continue working with Senator Patty Murray and our colleagues in the House to increase funding for this worthwhile project," Congressman Baird said."I also remain committed to protecting the environmental vitality of the Columbia River and surrounding areas."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded its first channel-deepening contract, but environmentalists are suing to block the project.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs