Top Federal Official to Visit Port of Lewiston Next Week

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will present grant

A top-level White House official will be visiting the Port of Lewiston Wednesday with Idaho’s governor.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. at 1626 Sixth Avenue North in Lewiston, according to the governor’s office.  He’ll be accompanied by Idaho Governor C.L. (Butch) Otter, Senator Mike Crapo, and Senator Jim Risch, both R-Idaho.

LaHood is a member of the Cabinet who advises the president.  The men will be presenting a federal grant to the Port of Lewiston, according to the governor’s office.

The port received $1.3 million in June to expand its dock from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant program.  It’s not clear if the award that will be given Wednesday is the same.

Port Manager David Doeringsfeld declined to comment about LaHood’s visit Friday, and no one in the governor’s office was available to respond to questions Friday.

The port expects to add 150 feet to its 120-foot container dock next summer in a $2.9 million project.

The dock handles containers filled with paper products, peas, garbanzo beans, lentils, or wheat bound for the Port of Portland down the Snake and Columbia rivers.  The containers are transferred onto larger vessels in Portland, before going back onto the Columbia River and across the Pacific Ocean.

The Friday announcement of LaHood’s visit coincided with a news release from LaHood’s office about close to half a billion federal dollars being freed for highway, transit, passenger rail, or port projects.

Idaho’s share of that money will be $3 million and Washington’s is $10 million, according to the news release.

The money was in appropriation acts as earmarks from fiscal years 2003 to 2006, but was never spent, according to the news release.  States have until October 1 to identify how they will use the money.

Even though the transportation department is releasing earmarks already granted, the news release reiterated President Barack Obama’s continued opposition to earmarks.  “President Obama has vowed to veto any bill that comes to his desk with earmarks and would support legislation to permanently ban earmarks.”

(By Elaine Williams, The Lewiston Tribune)

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