Amelia Templeton/The Daily Astorian File
A local environmental group is raising opposition to a state grant application by a Knappa-based company that exports raw timber, among other commodities, from a private dock in Rainier.
The North Coast State Forest Coalition has been emailing activists about an application by Teevin Bros. Land & Timber Co. Inc. to the state Department of Transportation’s ConnectOregon VI program. The state uses lottery-backed bonds to offer grants for pedestrian, road, rail, air and marine infrastructure projects. Teevin Bros. has asked the state to fund $750,000 of a $1.2 million project to construct seven mooring dolphins near Rainier for tugs and barges.
“We just don’t want to see state dollars — in this case lottery dollars — facilitate the shipping of mill jobs to Asia,” said Chris Smith, executive director of the forest coalition.
While the coalition has not formally testified against the project, he said, it is reaching out to core activists. He said the group will likely testify on the application.
A place to tie up
Paul Langner, the waterfront manager at Teevin Bros.’ Rainier yard, said this year’s application would only have a microscopic effect on log exports and the company’s bottom line.
“Our project is to put in mooring dolphins that can be used by any tug and barge that needs to tie up,” Langner said.
The Columbia River has a quickly growing marine highway, he said, but not many places for tugs and barges, which usually have no anchor, to tie up in bad weather and during other delays.
In addition to exporting about 300 million board feet of timber a year from Rainier, Langner said, Teevin Bros. takes in 75 million board feet that goes to local mills for processing and exports 200 million board feet of processed lumber a year to California and Hawaii. The logs come from private land, as export of raw timber from state-owned lands has largely been prohibited since 1990.
Teevin Bros. is Oregon’s only direct connection to Hawaii, Langner said, shipping anything from Sheetrock and reinforced steel bars to airplane kits and light rail components. “If its a building commodity, it ships out of Rainier to Honolulu every two weeks,” he said.
Teevin Bros. has received more than $9 million over the past decade through ConnectOregon, including grants in four out of the program’s five funding cycles. In 2010, the company received nearly $3.7 million to support rail-to-barge operations. Langner said the project helped create 73 jobs in Rainier in the midst of a recession.
“I believe we’ve been successful (with getting grants) because we are a true transportation project,” Langner said.
Critics may not like the state investing in privately owned infrastructure, he said, but it is those public-private partnerships that have benefited the economy.
Choosing the winners
Local, regional and modal committees made up of appointed members score grant applications based on considerations outlined in state law. Winning projects reduce transportation costs for businesses, improve access to sources of labor, benefit the economy statewide, provide critical links in the state’s transportation system, are largely funded by other sources and are ready for construction.
The state Transportation Commission will hold a public hearing July 21 to release a list of the 75 projects seeking grants, ranked by a final review committee. The state will fund $45 million worth of requests. The winning grant applications will be announced in August. Along with Teevin Bros.’ project, the Port of Astoria has requested more than $1.5 million to help pay for rehabilitation of the western dock on Pier 2, where seafood is transferred from fishing boats to processors.
The state Transportation Commission is taking comments on the projects until the meeting later this month through ConnectOregon@odot.state.or.us or by mail at: Oregon Transportation Commission, 555 13th St. N.E., Salem, OR 97301. For more information on the projects, visit http://tinyurl.com/aaky8az