PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles has been awarded an $8.6 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Port Infrastructure Development Program.
“The Port of Port Angeles is thrilled to have been awarded this grant to assist in the repair and improvements to its industrial waterfront at its Intermodal Handling and Transfer Facility (IHTF),” said Connie Beauvais, president of the Port of Port Angeles commission, in a press release.
The IHTF is the only industrial facility with a water interface on the North Olympic Peninsula that can process whole logs coming from Canada and Alaska. It also moves logs from the Peninsula to manufacturers across the Pacific Northwest using barges.
The IHT facility has become vital to the freight infrastructure on the Peninsula, directly supporting domestic manufacturing, timber industry jobs and economic development.
Much of the grant will be used to complete structural repairs and improvements to an existing 112-year-old dock as well as pavement improvements to increase the surface elevation and load capacity for about 10 acres of an existing 30-acre cargo yard, according to the Port of Port Angeles.
“There are two pieces to this funding program,” said Geoff James, executive director for the port. “We actually submitted for two parts.
“One is for the refurbishment of our coffer dam, a sheet pile structure that allows us to bring up a barge alongside the land to load wood onto it.
“The other is to improve the surface of about 10 acres of the eastern portion of the log yard to allow for better flow of stormwater,” he said.
Both James and Beauvais said these repairs will improve efficiency and offer expansion opportunities.
“The project will improve efficiency, expand opportunities for other uses and improve the water quality of stormwater runoff at the facility,” Beauvais said. “This port asset facilitates the efficient movement of material on and off the North Olympic Peninsula via waterborne transportation, which benefits our local community by reducing transportation costs and removing trucks off Highway 101, which reduces 610 tons of CO2 emissions annually and improves safety.”
“The big thing is really to gain more efficiency,” James said. “If you’re driving around on an uneven and unapproved surface, it’s very hard on the machines. The stuff coming off the wood we can’t use for fuel because it has dirt in it so a lot of that ends up being waste.”
The port expects the permitting, consultations and assessment processes necessary for the refurbishment project to be completed by the end of 2025, with construction to start in spring 2026. The project is anticipated to be completed later that fall.
Although James anticipates the project will get matching funds from the state, he said the port is prepared to provide those funds.
The federal funds were supported by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as well as Rep. Derek Kilmer, who advocated for the funding in a letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“This announcement is about jobs,” Kilmer said. “I grew up in Port Angeles and know how much we can benefit from federal infrastructure investments to strengthen economic opportunity here. That’s why I’ve been advocating for the federal government to invest in Port Angeles and in the future of this region’s economy.
“Making improvements to port facilities so we can grow jobs in our region shouldn’t fall on the backs of local taxpayers. The federal government ought to help. This is big news for our region.”
Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.