Posted on November 1, 2022
Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that a $25.5 million federal grant been awarded to the Port of Grays Harbor in Washington state. The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
Rep. Kilmer, Sen. Murray, and Sen. Cantwell all advocated for the grant and wrote a letter of support for the Port of Grays Harbor to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in September 2022.
“This announcement is about jobs. It’s about creating economic opportunity. Our ports are amazing engines of economic development in our region. Improving our port’s infrastructure to support their ability to export American products abroad shouldn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers in Grays Harbor,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I fought to help secure this vital new investment from the federal government. This will help create good paying jobs in our region. It is a big deal!”
“For over a hundred years, the Port of Grays Harbor has played a pivotal role in the country’s supply chains and this grant is going to super charge the work they’re doing to decrease our trade deficit and create good paying jobs,” said Senator Murray. “I pressed to pass this funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law because I know when we invest in our ports, we support good-paying jobs in Washington state communities like Grays Harbor, strengthen the supply chains that stock our families’ shelves, and we bring down costs in the process. Washington state’s ports are critical to our state’s economy—that’s why I fought to get them the resources they need to lower prices in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I will continue fighting for them in the Senate.”
“This $25.5 million grant will double the Port of Grays Harbor rail-based cargo export capacity to strengthen our supply chain and meet the rising demand for soymeal across the globe. The Port is one of the largest soymeal storage and export facilities on the West Coast, and this new rail capacity will leverage over $180 million in private investment, create over 80 long-term jobs, and will boost Grays Harbor’s competitiveness in the global market place,” Sen. Cantwell said.
“So many of the goods we all count on, from appliances to furniture to clothes, move through our nation’s ports on their way to us,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this year we’re awarding record levels of funding to improve our port infrastructure, strengthen our supply chains, and help cut costs for American families.”
According to the Port of Grays Harbor, this PIDP grant will be used to construct an additional 50,000 feet of rail to accommodate unit trains and railcar storage. The funding will also help repurpose a 50-acre brownfield site into a breakbulk cargo handling and laydown area, complete access and roadway improvements, help replace marine terminal fendering systems, and complete related site improvements.
This improvement aims to help the Port of Grays Harbor expand its rail infrastructure to support a significant expansion and enhancement of Ag Processing Inc’s (AGP) export terminal. AGP, an existing tenant of the Port and a leading soybean meal exporter in the United States, announced an expansion at the Port that will ultimately allow the facility to increase soybean meal exports from 3 million to 6 million metric tons. In addition to ensuring the Port can efficiently handle an increased volume of rail traffic, the grant will help ensure the Port can mitigate potential surface traffic impacts to the local community.
Grays Harbor is the closest mainland port to the Pacific Rim and the most efficient route for soybean meal to reach Southeast Asian markets. Export cargo arrives from AGP processing facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota, via rail car to the Port of Grays Harbor.
“We are incredibly grateful to our federal delegation and their staffs, who truly understand the importance of strategic transportation investment, for all of their support and leadership in securing this critical funding for the Terminal 4 Expansion & Redevelopment Project,” stated Port of Grays Harbor Commission President Tom Quigg. “This project will allow us to accommodate AGP’s growth and private investment here in Grays Harbor, increase international shipments of US grown and processed soybean meal, and sustain thousands of farming jobs throughout the Midwest, while creating new jobs for our community. As stated in our grant application, this is not just a project of regional significance, this is truly a project of National significance and we thank our delegation, MARAD and all our supporters for recognizing this.”
“The widespread, bi-partisan support we received for this project’s grant application was extraordinary,” shared Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson. “From our local and tribal leaders to Governors and US Senators and Representatives from throughout the Midwest, this infrastructure project will play a critical role in the United States economy for decades to come. We look forward to having this project be a poster child for PIDP by showcasing how investment in infrastructure can leverage benefits like private investment, job creation and opportunities for communities throughout our Nation.”
Rep. Kilmer has long advocated for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), leveraging his role on the House Committee on Appropriations to secure critical funding for the program. He also voted to support the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which provided $2.25 billion for the program, significantly expanding America’s ability to invest in infrastructure and capacity upgrades at ports. Rep. Kilmer also sent a letter of support to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to support the Port of Grays Harbor during the grant decision-making process. In addition, Rep. Kilmer voted to pass and secured numerous provisions to support ports and waterway navigation through the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. This includes, among others, projects to deepen the Port of Tacoma, build stormwater treatment facilities at the Port of Port Angeles, and restore aquatic ecosystems throughout the region. This legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rep. Kilmer has publicly committed to pushing to see the bill become law in the coming months.
Senator Murray has long fought for Washington state’s ports and waterways. Earlier this month, Senator Murray announced a federal grant of over $4.1 million from the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration for the purchase of an electric dock crane at the Port of Vancouver. In August, Senator Murray held a roundtable discussion in Longview on her recent efforts to support the Port of Longview, strengthen supply chains, and help create good-paying jobs. The Water Development Resources Act, contained key provisions for Washington state including changes secured by Murray to the Harbor Maintenance Tax and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. These changes will provide billions of dollars each year to invest in and enhance the global competitiveness of ports in Washington state and across the country.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell worked to include a record $2.25 billion for the program in the Biden-Harris Infrastructure Law. In September 2021, Sen. Cantwell led a letter calling for more funding for the PIDP program to help address the ongoing issues with port congestion. Sen. Cantwell also championed and coauthored the 2019 legislation that reauthorized MARAD and strengthened the PIDP grant program, and was instrumental in passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to strengthen maritime supply chains and protect Washington farmers and exporters from shipping companies’ unfair practices.