Transportation secretary pledges support for Port of Lewiston,
Boise Airport, capital city's transportation plans

Ray LaHood
U.S. Transportation Secretary

LEWISTON - For farmers and other businesses in the West, the Port of Lewiston, provides a critical link – through the Snake and Columbia rivers – to the Port of Portland and the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, cargo exported from the port reached 17 different countries, including 85 percent of the soft white wheat, peas and lentil grown in the region.

Yesterday, with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, U.S. Sens. Jim Risch, and Mike Crapo, I had the opportunity to tour the port, and it was clear to see how important its container pier is to this community, to the state, and to the region. It was also clear to see how important it is to expand the port's capacity.

The Lewiston-Clarkston Valley is one of few American communities with more than 50,000 residents that also lies more than an hour's drive from the nearest interstate highway, which makes the Port of Lewiston even more essential to the region's economy and explains why the port is one of the primary inland export terminals in the nation.

Expanding and upgrading this key port will allow farmers and other businesses even greater access to global markets. And that's exactly what a $1.3 million grant from DOT's TIGER program will help the Port of Lewiston accomplish.

While it may surprise readers to learn that this interior port is so important to the Gem State, Idahoans and Montanans have long understood that this isolated port facility is an economic lifeline. In fact, 200 years ago the Lewis and Clark expedition recognized the value of the river system connecting the region to the Pacific Ocean and the world.

The current size of the dock restricts the movement of the port’s unloading crane to a relatively small area. Currently, the barge or crane must be repositioned several times to reach cargo, a long and cumbersome procedure. TIGER funding will be used to more than double the port’s existing 120-foot dock by adding another 150 feet.

Extending the dock will allow the crane to move along the entire face of the dock and provide access to two barges simultaneously.

Maritime transportation is an economic engine for the entire nation, moving more than 18 billion tons of freight each year. President Obama understands the economic importance of the maritime industry. For the first time ever, this Administration put maritime on an equal footing with the other transportation modes when it came to funding, making this and many other good projects possible.

For example, in the first four rounds of TIGER grants, we awarded $354 million to support 25 maritime-related projects.

And just last month, the White House announced that as part of the “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the review and approval process for five major ports across the country will be expedited to get workers quickly back on the job rebuilding our maritime infrastructure.

The Port of Lewiston is a perfect example of how America's interior ports and Marine Highways open up access to the world. The port already provides a critical economic link for this region. With targeted investments from TIGER, DOT is helping to strengthen that link, in Lewiston and across the nation.

Boise Airport receives runway improvement grant

Federal Aviation Administration
BOISE – U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a $6.8 million dollar grant to rehabilitate the primary runway at Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field in Boise.

The secretary made the announcement during a visit to Boise. He was accompanied by Mayor David Bieter and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador.

“Safety is our number-one priority,” LaHood said. “This grant will help enhance safety for both the traveling public and the pilots who use the airport.”

The Runway 10R/28L rehabilitation project will extend the useful life of the pavement and improve it to provide more traction for aircraft landing and taking off in wet weather conditions. The project also will enhance drainage of the runway surface and provide grading improvements to the runway safety area.

“This primary runway is critical to operations,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This grant enhances the operational safety and efficiency of the airport, enabling it to provide continued quality service to its customers.”

Runway 10L/28R will be used during project construction, which is scheduled to begin later this month. The airport expects to complete the project by November 2012.

The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides $3.35 billion in annual funding for projects that are vital to maintaining the safety, capacity, and environmental stewardship of our airports.

More than 3,300 airports are eligible for AIP grants benefiting commercial passengers, cargo operations, and general aviation activities throughout the nation.

Secretary to send transportation team to Boise

Idaho Statesman
BOISE - Ray LaHood said Wednesday he will send a team of U.S. Department of Transportation experts to Boise to help realize Mayor David Bieter's vision of a transportation system for the city. The team will focus on solving the technical and financial hurdles of a system that would focus on efficient transportation in and around Boise as the city grows, LaHood said.

Boise is eyeing installation of a commuter rail system and enhanced bus service to connect Boise to its neighboring communities, as well as a way of moving people quickly through downtown once they're there, city spokesman Adam Park said.

Designing and building such a system would be easier with access to federal money, and Transportation Department personnel know how to get that money, LaHood said.

LaHood toured locomotive manufacturer MotivePower's Boise headquarters Wednesday as part of a trip through western states. Bieter presented him a gift from the city: a bicycle helmet autographed by two-time Olympic gold medalist and Boise resident Kristin Armstrong.

"As a cyclist myself, I will proudly not wear this," LaHood said.

Published 8-24-2012