ILWACO — A major project at the Port of Ilwaco is now fully funded following news last week of a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The port’s east bulkhead provides waterside work space for Safe Coast Seafoods, a major employer and crucial partner to the local commercial fishing industry. The current structure dates from the mid-20th century “and has endured severe deterioration due to age, frequent flooding, and storm damage. The potential collapse of the bulkhead could render the entire wharf unusable,” according to a press release.
With a considerable push from U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, the federal Port Infrastructure Development Program said last week it will provide $2,444,138 to rebuild the bulkhead, adding to grants obtained this summer of $750,000 from the state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board and $80,000 from the Pacific County Council of Governments. Total project cost is pegged at $3.5 million.
The only other PIDP grant awarded in Washington was $15.7 million for the Port of Tacoma.
The Ilwaco upgrades will include electric shore power for refrigerated units on trucks and boats, and eventually electric vehicles and boats.
“This grant means more jobs and economic activity at the Port of Ilwaco and businesses like ours who are committed to this region,” said Chris Lam, president of Safe Coast Seafoods. “With this kind of strong support for critical infrastructure renewal, we feel much more confident about growing our footprint and investing in the region.”
Safe Coast plans to hire 64 new employees at the site over the next five years, but the failing bulkhead put the entire operation at risk, according to our congressional delegation.
“This grant will help secure our region’s economic future by building dock infrastructure that will better withstand the current and future hazards of our changing climate,” port Manager Guy Glenn Jr. said. ”We are grateful for the support of our Senate and Congressional delegations in championing our badly-needed infrastructure resilience project.”
“I’m glad to see federal dollars going to Washington state ports to help speed the flow goods at the Port of Tacoma and upgrade the facilities at the Port of Ilwaco,” Murray said. “As Washington state continues to be a global leader in maritime trade, it’s critical that we keep investing in our supply chain capacity and port infrastructure. These federal awards will mean more business for our ports — which in turn means more jobs for local workers, lower prices for consumers, and a stronger economy for local communities and our entire state. Everyone from cherry farmers to aerospace manufacturers rely on the trade that runs through these and other ports, which is why as a voice for Washington state in the Senate, I’m going to keep fighting for investments like these ones in our port infrastructure and supply chains.”