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Conservationists Commission Snake Transportation Study

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - January 23, 2004

Upgrading railroads and grain elevators to accommodate grain shipments displaced from the Snake River if the four lower Snake River dams are removed could cost as little as $43.8 million -- a figure comparable to just one year's federal spending on operating and maintaining the four lower Snake River dams -- according to a study released Jan. 16 by conservationists.

The conservation groups have long said that most science supports the removal of four federal dams on the lower Snake River as the most certain way to recover endangered salmon runs. This would restore 140 miles of free-flowing river, but end barge traffic on the lower Snake River.

The conservationists commissioned transportation economists BST Associates to examine what infrastructure improvements would be necessary to provide a comparable transportation system for Northwest farmers shipping their goods to market. BST Associates did not evaluate the efficacy of dam removal as a means to recover salmon and steelhead populations.

"Considered in context, the costs identified here are very modest," said Rob Masonis, regional director for American Rivers. "An updated rail system would offer farmers an affordable and effective way to ship grain to market, protect existing businesses in southeastern Washington, and improve the prospects for attracting new business."

BST Associates' key findings include:

Conservationists say these findings are best understood in the context of the following (these comparisons were compiled and analyzed by the conservation organizations that commissioned the study, not BST) Related Sites:
FAQs study:
Necessary Rail System Upgrades:
Impacts on Grain Shipping Rates:
Impacts on Highway Expenditures:
Lower Snake River Transportation Study:

CBB Staff
Conservationists Commission Snake Transportation Study
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 23, 2004

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