WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell announced that a total of $18.14 million in federal grants has been awarded to the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Ilwaco.
According to a release from Cantwell’s office, the grant awards were made through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
Senator Cantwell has consistently championed and coauthored the 2019 legislation that reauthorized MARAD and the PIDP grant program.
Most recently, the program was reauthorized in the 2021 National Defense Reauthorization Act, a provision authored by Cantwell.
As Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Cantwell worked to include a record $2.25 billion for the program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
In September, Cantwell led a letter calling to boost funding for the PIDP program to help address the ongoing issues with port congestion.
Port congestion has significantly impacted Washington state residents. Ships carrying perishables have been held up, sometimes for weeks, causing produce to rot in their containers, resulting in huge losses and reduced food supply.
Currently, school districts across Washington are experiencing shortages of certain foods normally served in school cafeterias.
The following PIDP grants were awarded to Washington state ports:
Port of Ilwaco, East Bulkhead Resilience Project — $2.44 million
“Ilwaco is one of the most seafood-dependent coastal economies in the United States, and this project will help make Pacific Country seafood businesses more resilient to extreme weather, sea level rise and earthquakes. This important investment in the Port of Ilwaco’s seafood processing wharf bulkhead will support hundreds of jobs in the region that depend upon reliable port access to support sustainable fisheries and seafood processing,” said Senator Cantwell.
The East Bulkhead at the Port of Ilwaco’s commercial fishing wharf is over 60 years old in structurally deficient condition due to age, frequent flooding, and damage from severe storms. According to the Port of Ilwaco, the collapse of the bulkhead would render the entire wharf unusable.
This PIDP grant will help fund a new facility that will accommodate electric shore power for refrigerated units on trucks and boats. It will also support the port’s efforts to decarbonize by installing high efficiency LED lighting and, eventually, adding solar power and supporting electric vehicles and electric boats. This grant of $2.5 million will fund nearly 70% of the estimated total cost of the project.
In September, Senator Cantwell sent a letter of support for the grant to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Port of Tacoma, Off-Dock Container Support Facility — $15.7 million
“Everywhere in the country dock space is the issue for ports, and that is true here in Tacoma too. This investment in the Port of Tacoma will expand dock space, ease congestion, and improve efficiency by providing access to an additional 24.5 acres of container storage space. This is critical to helping move freight in Tacoma, and will help keep Washington’s $37 billion maritime economy growing,” said Senator Cantwell.
According to the Port of Tacoma, this PIDP grant award will help fund improvements to approximately 24.5 acres of land adjacent to the Husky Terminal, West Sitcum Terminal, and Washington United Terminals on Thorne Road on the Tacoma Tideflats. This will result in new off-dock container and chassis storage capacity, which will free up on-dock space at the Port’s terminals, increasing the capacity and efficiency of the terminals and the Port as a whole. The Port anticipates construction of a full suite of site utilities, including stormwater, power, sewer, water, security, and communications.
In December, Senator Cantwell sent a letter of support for the grant to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.