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Cargo Handlers Get Back to Work

by Jeanie Senior
Portland Tribune, June 14, 2005

Port of Portland's railside Terminal 2 sees more traffic

Traffic is starting to stir again at the Port of Portland's Terminal 2, which once bustled with log and lumber exports.

Port officials say they're going to be aggressively marketing T-2, which is north of the Fremont Bridge and just across the Willamette River from Union Pacific's Albina Rail Yards, to shipping lines seeking a less congested port. The 55-acre facility at 3556 N.W. Front Ave. is the closest port terminal to downtown.

The uptick follows a long decline; the last logs were shipped out of T-2 in 1992.

"Things in Oregon changed," said port spokesman Eric Hedaa. "Exports have diminished to the point where we're not really doing any forest product exports out of T-2."

In recent years, the cargo most often handled at T-2 has been import shipments of railroad rail, but other ship calls have been occasional. Once, oceangoing barges were loaded at T-2 with cargo bound for Hawaii, but that business shifted to the Port of Seattle.

The Port of Portland took over direct management of the terminal in January, after the early termination of a management agreement held by Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America.

The lack of business, Hedaa said, prompted the contract cancellation. Now, Stevedoring Services handles rail import unloading, but putting the port in charge of terminal management also opened it up to use of other stevedoring services, he said.

T-2 is designated as the place where break-bulk cargo is handled. Break-bulk refers to items that aren't shipped in a bulk hold, such as wheat, or items too large or odd-sized to be shipped in containers, such as heavy equipment.

"Before cargo was containerized, everything was break-bulk," Hedaa said, pointing to historic photos that depicted items being lifted from a ship's hold in a cargo net.

Marketing of the terminal will focus on its assets, which include a rail line that runs along the front of the pier, allowing cargo to be offloaded directly into rail cars.

"T-2 is kind of a really unique terminal on the West Coast in that you can go directly from a ship to rail," Hedaa said.

Rail car builder Gunderson Rail Services, which is close to T-2, recently has been receiving shipments of steel plate through the terminal.

"It's a big cost saving. They're right next door to the facility," Hedaa said.

The first of three or four expected shiploads of silico-manganese, a product used in steelmaking, was unloaded at T-2 in April. The terminal was used instead of Terminal 4, which is undergoing refurbishment.

The steel rail shipments alone cover the cost of operations at T-2, according to Hedaa, who said the terminal "is only open when it needs to be, and we're hustling cargo through there."

Still, he said, the port would like to see T-2 open and in use more often. The port, which wants to develop the terminal's potential, is putting out bids on shipments that could come to Portland rather than other West Coast ports.

"We're looking to increase the amount of break-bulk business we're doing there, and now that we have control over the management of the facility we can better do that," he said.

In the mid-1980s, the port spent $40 million redeveloping the terminal, which has two huge warehouses formerly used to store lumber and other wood products.

Jeanie Senior
Cargo Handlers Get Back to Work
Portland Tribune, June 14, 2005

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