Gluesenkamp Perez, Bonamici, Bipartisan Colleagues Support Prioritized Completion of South Jetty at Mouth of the Columbia River

Apr 19, 2024

Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the U.S. Army and Office of Management and Budget urging the allocation of $21.6 million of FY24 construction funding for the South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River. Prioritizing completion of the jetty would help protect Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon ports and businesses that rely on the navigation channel.

The Columbia River Basin is the third largest grain export gateway in the world. In 2020, roughly 51 million tons of cargo, valued at $22 billion, moved through the deep draft Lower Columbia River. The jetty system safeguards traffic through the gateway, supporting ports and businesses in Washington, Oregon, and the broader region.

Frequent storms have degraded the jetties – and if they are compromised during an intense storm event, sand could accumulate in the channel and shut down commercial navigation at the river system’s entrance. Restoring access would require expensive emergency repairs and dredging.

The Mouth of the Columbia River Jetty System Major Rehabilitation Project began in 2014 to address these risks, with the North Jetty and Jetty A having already been completed.  A remaining portion of the South Jetty requires completion, so the lawmakers are urging its prioritization through the FY24 work plan process. Without the funding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may not be able to complete construction without significant increases to the cost or timeline.

“We respectfully request the Fiscal Year 2024 construction funding to complete construction of the Columbia River Jetties Rehabilitation so that our ports and harbors can continue to serve their communities and the nation,” wrote the lawmakers. “As our nation works to stimulate economic development and increase job growth, this project will assist in maintaining the navigation and trade assets that keep critical supply chains and goods moving.”

Sens. Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), and Jeff Merkley (OR) and Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), and Andrea Salinas (OR-06) also signed the letter.

“We are extremely grateful for the delegation’s strong support for this critical infrastructure funding to complete the jetty rehabilitation at the mouth of the Columbia River, which will ensure cargo vessels and cruise ships can continue to traverse the Columbia River bar safely,” said Neil Maunu, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. “Last year over $27 billion worth of cargo transited in and out of the Columbia River. This river system is the gateway to the world and supports over 51 million tons of commodities and 25,000 cruise passengers a year. It is the lifeblood of the economy for our region.” 

Full text of the letter can be found here.

The letter is supported by the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.

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