The Port of Longview should demolish an aging grain terminal and dock and build a new multi-purpose berth to handle a variety of cargo, consultants told port commissioners Tuesday.
Consulting firm HDR Engineering Inc. also warned that Millennium Bulk Terminals could cause train congestion at the port if the company expands its proposed coal export facility without rail upgrades.
Port officials applauded the recommendation to replace Berth 4, which has been virtually unused for two decades, and install a 1,000-foot "omni" terminal designed to handle bulk cargo.
"It's an eyesore. It's a dock that needs to go," Port Director Ken O'Hollaren said.
The proposed new berth was part of the first public presentation of the port's $230,000 master plan, designed by HDR Engineering Inc. of Portland.
Port officials have talked before about demolishing the grain elevator, built in 1927 and one of Longview's oldest structures. It's a more pressing topic now, O'Hollaren said, because the port is running out of storage space for bulk cargo, such as logs. Port officials say they haven't decided yet if they'll move forward with razing the elevator or how much the entire project would cost.
"It's pretty obvious this is an area of opportunity. What's not obvious is the funding," Port Commissioner Bob Bagaason said.
Kurt Reichelt, vice president of HDR, said the port has more than enough rail capacity to handle current traffic. The port is also capable of handling six trains per day to the EGT grain elevator opening this fall along with the proposed one to two trains daily at the Millennium site on Industrial Way, he said.
However, Reichelt said the port would be close to exceeding its rail capacity, leading to delays that could hamper cargo transport, if an additional three trains per day would be routed through the port. In that event, Reichelt said the port might need to add a second crossing over the Cowlitz River, along with other improvements already proposed by the Longview switching yard and Burlington Northern.
Millennium officials have discussed expanding the coal terminal to accommodate as many as four to five additional daily trains, but the company has not made a formal application for the upgrade.
HDR also recommended that the port set aside land near the current administration building for a replacement structure which would include space to hold community meetings.