Walden, Northwest Lawmakers Urge Funding of Columbia River Deepening
Full funding and completion in 2009 would save costs, allow region to reap economic benefits sooner
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) led a bipartisan group of nine Northwest lawmakers to yesterday send a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle expressing their "strong support for funding of the Columbia River Channel Deepening Project" in the President's fiscal year 2009 budget. By fully funding the project at $29 million in the next budget, the lawmakers are hopeful the project could be completed during that year, thus ensuring the transport of goods up and down the Columbia River which is so important to the economy of the region.
"The sooner we complete this project, the sooner we can allow the region to take full advantage of the waterway's economic potential," Walden said. "For example, each ship in a deepened channel can carry an additional $1 million of wheat, which would reduce costs to growers and expand the U.S. export of wheat. A deeper channel means more jobs, more trade, and more energy efficiency for the Pacific Northwest. Completing the project in 2009, rather than 2010, will save significant construction costs and allow the deeper ships to begin carrying goods."
Walden, who organized the letter, also voted last week to override the President's veto of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes a provision to speed channel deepening on the river by removing arbitrary restrictions on the dredges involved in the project.
Full funding for the project this year would be the final step in the administration's consistent commitment to the project. In an August 2004 visit to the Port of Portland, President Bush called it "a vital project."