Curtis Robinhold, Executive Director, Port of Portland

Curtis Robinhold, Executive Director, Port of Portland

For small and medium-sized ports, the impact of cargo fluctuations can be felt more severely than at larger ports. One solution for a port our size? Diversification, which is why we’re focused on offering shippers a variety of ways to access markets in this ever-changing world economy.

The availability of multiple transportation options helps keep costs down for shippers and increases the mix of revenue streams. In partnership with the BNSF Railway, we began an intermodal service last year that connects us with other Northwest ports. The idea is to offer quick delivery, bypassing highway congestion and delays. Demand has been strong, and we’ve seen this service consistently grow and expand.  

In addition to road and rail, some ports have barging options for cargo — typically wheat, wood products and aggregates. But we’re thinking bigger about how to connect rural producers with overseas consumers. Incorporating a container-on-barge service offers a more environmentally friendly way to avoid crowded highways and bring a cost benefit. We’ve also been working with a breakbulk carrier to increase volumes for products such as lumber, that can transit via container or breakbulk.             

Looking forward, we’re exploring other innovative ways to serve robust and growing industries — whether by re-establishing trans-Pacific container service, north-south container services, inland barging, or mixed cargo vessels.

In times of industry transformation, we know uncertainty is bad for business. Given our strong economy, we must continue to seek out new ideas and technology to increase the diversity of how to keep goods moving.

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