A recent editorial suggests that K-Line's recent departure from the Port of Portland's container facility confirms flaws in the Corps of Engineers' economic study supporting the Columbia River Channel Deepening project ("K Line contradicts channel deepening," The Daily Astorian, March 12).
In truth, K-Line's departure had nothing to do with the state of their business in Portland, and everything to do with the fact that the global container industry is facing the greatest crisis since its founding more than 50 years ago. The container industry is largely consumer driven and the meltdown of the global economy has caused enormous declines everywhere in the world.
On the West Coast of the U.S., the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are down in volume by 20 percent or more. The same is true in Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle. Portland's overall volume loss has been consistent with that.
It is safe to say that the Corps did not anticipate the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression - who did? This has been a challenging year for all of the Port's businesses, from our various marine terminals to Portland Airport, as well as for the more than 32,000 workers at those facilities. On the other hand, 2007 was the biggest year in the Port's history in terms of volume, tonnage, passengers and revenue.
Furthermore, several Port tenants have made multimillion dollar improvements to their terminal facilities in anticipation of growing business and growing ships. The Port of Longview, Wash., is negotiating for an entirely new grain terminal, the first on the Columbia River in decades. These investments would not be happening but for the long-term confidence all of these companies have in the future of navigation on the Columbia River.
K-Line's departure from Portland is certainly not good news for the Port or the many agricultural shippers who depend upon it, but their departure is a reflection of the global economic condition and not the economics of the Channel Deepening project.
Executive Director, Port of Portland