Columbia River Channel Improvements Project

Map of Columbia River Channel Improvement Project

Map of Columbia River Channel Improvement Project


The recently completed Columbia River Channel Improvements Project was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and six Oregon and Washington ports to deepen the  Columbia River navigation channel between the ocean and Portland/Vancouver from 40 to 43 feet.  The export-dependent Northwest required a deeper channel to accommodate the larger, more fuel-efficient ships that now transport most bulk cargo and containers between our region and the world.                                                                                                    

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Economic Benefits

The Columbia River transports over 40 million tons of cargo worth $17 billion each year.  Columbia River maritime activity directly supports 40,000 local jobs with an average annual wage of $46,000, and positively influences 59,000 more jobs. For every dollar invested in channel deepening, $1.66 in transportation savings to global markets will now result.  This project will save businesses and farmers $18.8 million in annual national transportation costs, plus major regional economic benefits.

Environmental Benefits

The project also improved the natural environment through several ecosystem restoration projects.  The first ecosystem restoration feature was completed in 2004 at Lord-Walker Island (near Longview) to provide improved habitat for migrating juvenile salmon.  Additional completed features will significantly contribute to the health of the river, including restored tidal marsh, wetlands, native riparian vegetation, shallows, and fish access to spawning streams in the estuary.  These features go above and beyond required mitigation to leave the estuary and river better than before the project.  Because much of the channel is naturally deep, only 54% of the channel (or 3.5% of the lower river) required deepening.

Litigation Resolved

In 2005, a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle ruled that the Corps, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the sponsor ports had properly analyzed the project’s impacts under federal law.  The judge agreed that the Corps had taken the requisite “hard look” at project impacts and that NOAA Fisheries had properly reviewed the project’s impacts to salmon.  In 2006, an appeal was favorably decided in support of the project in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Construction Completion

After nearly 20 years of careful planning, economic analysis, environmental reviews, and federal, state, and local governmental approvals, the Corps’ contractors began deepening the channel in 2005 and completed the 103 mile project in November of 2010.


Washington and Oregon appropriated full state matching funds totaling $55.4 million in 2001.  Over $140 million in federal funds have been appropriated for the project: $4.5 million for FY2001; $2 million for FY2003; $3.5 million for FY2004; $9 million for FY2005; $15 million for FY2006; $30 million for FY2007; $14.76 million for FY2008; and $34.5 million for FY2009.  The 2009 federal ARRA Stimulus Package included the final $26.6 million needed for rock removal in the Columbia River navigation channel – which finally completed this vitally important project in November 2010.

PORTLAND, ORE. (March 21, 2012) – New Stats Show Port is Job Generator

Each weekday, nearly 26,600 area residents get up and go to work at a Port of Portland-related job. This includes, for example, airline personnel, longshore workers, distribution and warehouse employees, truck drivers, railroad employees, river and bar pilots, and rental car company workers.

According to a new economic impact analysis, the Port of Portland generated 26,598 direct, induced and indirect jobs, $1.7 billion in wages, salaries and consumption impacts, $4.6 billion in business revenue and more than $164 million in state and local taxes in 2011.

Port marine operations at its four terminals generated more than 9,000 jobs, more than $750 million in personal income, $803 million in business revenue and about $72 million in state and local taxes.

"It is significant to note that the total direct jobs generated by Port activities are equivalent to the total number employed by Providence Health System, the metro area's third largest employer," said Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland executive director. "In addition, the annual business revenue generated is about four percent of the Portland-Vancouver gross regional product. This industry definitely plays a critical role in our regional economy and quality of life. That being said, it is because area businesses and passengers choose to use our facilities that these numbers are what they are. For that, we offer our thanks to all of our customers and stakeholders."

Since the Port collects about $9 million in property taxes in its taxing jurisdiction (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties), the study also examined return on investment for those tax dollars. The Port's aviation and marine activities directly generated about $54 million in local property taxes, a 6 to 1 return ratio.

Of the approximately 14,000 direct jobs generated by the Port, more than 50 percent of the job holders resided in the Port's taxing jurisdiction (Multnomah County, 39 percent; Washington County, 6.3 percent; and Clackamas County 8.7 percent.) Clark County is home to about 28 percent of the workers while the balance reside in Skamania County and other regional locations.

The study was conducted by John C. Martin Associates, LLC, of Lancaster, Pa. The Port conducts periodic economic impact studies to assist in tracking the impacts of new or lost business, changes in tonnage levels, operations and passenger levels, new real estate opportunities, capital expenditures and public policy issues. The last study was conducted in 2006. Full copies of the report can be viewed on the Port's Web site at: