News Releases

Murray Celebrates the Start of Channel Deepening Project in Vancouver

Aug 04 2005

Murray Commends Broad Coalition for Working to Improve Washington's Economy; Senator Outlines Three Priorities to Protect Channel's Future

(VANCOUVER, WA) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today joined more than 150 leaders in Southwest Washington to celebrate the start of dredging on the Columbia River channel deepening project.



On a brilliant sunny morning at Frenchman's Bar Park, Murray spoke of the economic benefits of a deeper channel.



"We all know that the Columbia River is the economic engine of the entire region, and we’re making that engine even stronger and more powerful," Murray told the audience. "A deeper channel means more trade, more jobs, and more opportunity, and that’s something we can all celebrate."



Murray noted that the channel improvement will produce benefits throughout the region.



"A deeper channel is going to make life better for farmers in Central and Eastern Washington, for businesses up and down the Columbia, for communities in Washington and Oregon, and for families throughout the region," Murray said.



Murray also congratulated the diverse coalition that came together to push for improving the channel.



"If you hadn’t built the consensus, if you hadn’t formed a broad coalition, and if you hadn’t kept at it, we wouldn’t be here celebrating today. Your work here is a model of how we can come together to solve problems, not only here in Southwest Washington, but throughout the state."



Murray has used her position on the Energy and Water Subcommittee to secure $25 million for the project since 2001. Though President Bush has not supported Channel Deepening in previous budgets, thanks to the bipartisan work of the Washington and Oregon Congressional delegation, this year he called for $15 million in funding for the project, and Murray worked to include the entire amount in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006. . In addition, both the states of Oregon and Washington have each committed their share of $27.7 million each.

Murray urged participants to use the same energy and commitment to maximize the investment in the river.

"Now that we’ve climbed the mountain and started construction, I want to make sure that we protect this investment, and that means three things," Murray said.

  1. Repair the jetties at the mouth of the Columbia River
    "According to the Army Corps of Engineers, there is a 20 percent chance of a jetty failing this year. Next year, the odds of failure double to 40 percent. And the year after that, they soar to 60 percent. That is a chance no one us can afford to take. Our investment in the channel will be lost if a jetty breaks, and the mouth of the river is closed. You’re working on it, and I am too. We’ve got to convince the Administration to support us. In the meantime, I worked to secure $17 million in the Senate for jetty repair."


  2. Providing Adequate Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers
    "To protect our investment, we need to a Corps budget that will meet the needs throughout the entire Columbia River system. I’m fighting for a budget that protects shallow water ports, repair dams and locks, and maintains infrastructure. This system is worth protecting, and I’m proud to be your partner on that front."
  3. Improving the region's transportation infrastructure
    "Over the next 20 years, rail traffic will grow dramatically, and more trucks will be using the I-5 corridor. We’re trouble with congestion today, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to meet those challenges. That’s why Congressman Baird and I secured $8 million to study the I-5 crossing. Like the feasibility study for Channel Deepening 10 years ago, this new bridge study will give us the blueprint we need to move forward."


The program included remarks by Dave Hunt (executive director of the Columbia River Channel Coalition), Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, Colonel Thomas O'Donavan (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore), U.S. Rep, Brian Baird (D-Vancouver), and Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn.



On June 15th, channel deepening construction began at River Mile 3 to River Mile 16 near Astoria, Oregon. The contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Docks, has completed deepening of the first 7 miles to date. Three feet of dredging will occur in parts of the river from Portland to the mouth of the river in Astoria, allowing newer and larger ships with deeper drafts to navigate up the Columbia River.



"This project will benefit the economy of our region. It will get those ships that have been light-loaded for so many years actually fully loaded so they can transport Northwest cargo all over the world," said Dave Hunt, Executive Director of the Columbia River Channel Coalition.



Senator Murray's remarks follow:



Good morning. Today is a great day for the people, the economy, and future of Southwest Washington. I am really thrilled to help you celebrate the start of construction on the Channel Deepening project.



We all know that the Columbia River is the economic engine of the entire region – and thanks to you – we’re making that engine even stronger and more powerful. A deeper channel means more trade, more jobs, and more opportunity -- and that’s something we can all celebrate.



This day has been a long time in the making. More than a decade ago, a group of leaders came together at Vancouver Landing to share a vision. They saw a Columbia River that could support more commerce. Today, that vision is becoming a reality. When I think about this project, I’m most excited about two things.

First, you came together to make something really big happen. I talk to people all over the state who have ideas about how to help their communities, and sometimes they don’t know how to move forward. I tell them to do what you’ve done build a consensus in the community, build a broad coalition, and then don’t stop until you win.



If there is one thing I can say about this group – it’s that you never give up. And I know that first-hand by working with so many of you over the years. At times, it seemed like an uphill battle, but you never gave up.



For many years, I can remember fighting on the Energy and Water Committee to set aside money for the channel without the support of the Administration. It wasn’t easy, but with your help, I did it all five years. And I would like to thank Senator Smith for helping to bring the Administration around to this project.



We all celebrated when President Bush came out to the Port of Portland and announced his support for the Channel Deepening. And this year -- for the first time – the President sent us a budget that supported Channel Deepening. He proposed $15 million, and on the Energy and Water Committee, I secured $15 million.



If you hadn’t built the consensus, if you hadn’t formed a broad coalition, and if you hadn’t kept at it, we wouldn’t be here celebrating today. Your work here is a model of how we can come together to solve problems – not only here in Southwest Washington – but throughout the state.



The other thing I’m really excited is the impact this project will have. A deeper channel is going to make life better for farmers in Central and Eastern Washington, for businesses up and down the Columbia, for communities in Washington and Oregon, and for families throughout the region. I want to thank all of the coalition leaders and members -- on both sides of the Columbia -- for your tremendous work.



Everyone here played a role in helping us reach this day – and I just want to give my special thanks to Ken O’Halloren, Larry Paulson, Dave Ripp, Lanny Cawley, Dave Hunt, and I could go on all day – but we’ve got a channel to deepen. Now that we’ve climbed the mountain and started construction – I want to make sure that we protect this investment – and that means three things.



First, we need to repair the jetties at the mouth of the river. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, there is a 20 percent chance of a jetty failing this year. Next year, the odds of failure double to 40 percent. And the year after that – they soar to 60 percent. That is a chance no one us can afford to take.



Our investment in the channel will be lost if a jetty breaks, and the mouth of the river is closed. You’re working on it – and I am too. We’ve got to convince the Administration to support us. In the meantime, I worked to secure $17 million in the Senate for jetty repair.



Second, to protect our investment, we need to a Corps budget that will meet the needs throughout the entire Columbia River system. I’m fighting for a budget that protects shallow water ports, repair dams and locks, and maintains infrastructure. This system is worth protecting, and I’m proud to be your partner on that front.



Finally, to protect our investment, we need to improve the roads and rails throughout the region. Over the next 20 years, rail traffic will grow dramatically, and more trucks will be using the I-5 corridor. We’re trouble with congestion today, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to meet those challenges.



That’s why Congressman Baird and I secured $8 million to study the I-5 crossing. Like the feasibility study for Channel Deepening 10 years ago, this new bridge study will give us the blueprint we need to move forward. I want to thank Congressman Baird for your great leadership. Everyone in the 3rd District has a great champion in Brian, and I’m proud to work with him.



In closing, all of you have shown that you know how to reach out, work together and get results for the greater good. Now let’s keep that same spirit going as we protect our investment and build a stronger future. Congratulations!