Wyatt Stresses Port's Role in Tri-Cities' Growthby Staff
Portland Business Journal, September 24, 2002
Decisions about the Port of Portland's future could impact business development efforts hundreds of miles away. At a Tuesday luncheon meeting in Kennewick, Wash., of the Tri-City Industrial Development Council (TRIDEC), Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt highlighted the complementary role Portland's seaport and airport plays in helping the region's businesses compete internationally.
The meeting, hosted by the Tri-Ports Association (comprising the ports of Benton, Kennewick and Pasco), stressed the priority that freight must be given in decisions regarding the region's future transportation system development.
"Northwest producers of everything from wheat and potatoes to consumer goods and machinery face strong and growing competition worldwide for their products," said Wyatt. "It's vital our regional importers and exporters—many of whom are from the Tri-Cities area—have reliable, efficient, low-cost freight transportation options or they can easily be shut out or priced out of global markets."
A recent commodity volumes analysis performed for the Port of Portland found the amount of freight moving through the United States is expected to double in the next 20 to 30 years, and that West Coast freight volumes are expected to grow the fastest. Trucks will receive the highest share of freight volume growth, while other modes of transport—such as barges, trains and planes—will see only modest freight tonnage growth.
According to Wyatt, federal and state transportation authorities should view this as a yellow caution flag that more attention must be paid to funding transportation improvement projects and encouraging use of alternative modes.
"This region is blessed with a waterway that not only enables the Tri-Cities area to be a hub of irrigated agricultural productivity, but also provides us with the nation's only successful container-on-barge transportation network," said Wyatt. "One way we can help keep freight and people moving efficiently is to ensure the Columbia-Snake river system can meet expected demand. That will help take the load off our highways, which already handle the lion's share of Northwest freight and passenger volumes."
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