Port of Coos Bay to Build Multimodal Container Terminal

The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay is partnering with Missouri-based development firm NorthPoint Development to build a multimodal container facility on the port’s North Spit, the two parties revealed in September.

The port and NorthPoint say they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for the project, with the intention of finalizing negotiations and signing a contract by the end of the year.

NorthPoint and Coos Bay estimate that the facility, once fully constructed, will move over a million forty-foot containers annually through the port via the Coos Bay Rail Line.  The rail spur on the North Spit is to be extended to the project site, and infrastructure improvements throughout the line are planned to accommodate double stack container movements.

“I applaud the Port of Coos Bay and NorthPoint for partnering on the North Spit project,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. DeFazio secured $32 million in the 2022 funding bill to support maintenance and improvements of the Coos Bay North Jetty. An additional $50 million that he worked to obtain for the purchase and rehabilitation of the Coos Bay rail line also helped to make the MOU possible, according to the port.

“This project will create hundreds of good-paying jobs on Oregon’s coast, which will boost Coos Bay’s local economy and provide needed support to rebuild the economic base for the region,” DeFazio said.

“With the recent closure of the Georgia Pacific Mill and other recent job loss in southwestern Oregon, the port sees this as an opportunity to rebuild the economic base for the region,” Port CEO John Burns remarked. “This is a project that has the potential to diversify the region’s economy and create employment opportunities both for the existing workforce and for future generations.”

Congestion at major West Coast ports has worsened, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, creating bottlenecks that slow the movement of goods and increase greenhouse gas emissions. NorthPoint said it views the Coos Bay harbor as an opportunity to create an environmentally conscious, state of the art gateway that will alleviate congestion throughout the West Coast and improve the movement of goods in and out of the United States and international markets.

“The Coos Bay Harbor offers an innovative solution to an ever-growing global challenge,” NorthPoint President and Founding Partner Chad Meyer said. “We have an opportunity to enhance the economy of the region while improving the logistics system as a whole.”

Currently, the majority of imports and exports moving in and out of Oregon travel by truck via the Seattle/Tacoma and Oakland ports, which Coos Bay says adds to the total delivered cost of products and commodities, roadway congestion and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Utilizing the Coos Bay Rail Line to transport containers instead of trucks could reduce overall emissions up to 75%, port officials say.

In addition to the North Spit container facility, Coos Bay has said that it is continuing to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other regulatory agencies on a channel modification project to deepen and widen the federally authorized channel from minus-37 feet to minus-45 feet Mean Lowest Low Water (MLLW) and from 300 feet to 450 feet nominal width.

Deepening and widening the channel is necessary, the port says, for it to remain competitive in the global marketplace as ocean carriers continue to utilize larger containerships.