Container slump keeps traffic sluggish at Port of Lewiston

LEWISTON TRIBUNEFebruary 19, 2014 

The Port of Lewiston says it moved 4,439 containers last year, the fifth consecutive year the number has been less than 5,000.

Port Manager David Doeringsfeld says the drop in volume was 5 percent from 2012. He offers no explanation for the trend.

“I don’t think there are any general conclusions to be made,” he says. Some dried pea and lentil growers sat on their product at the end of the year, he says.

Container shipping at the port peaked from 1995 to 2000, when the port moved more than 15,000 containers annually. Its slimmest year in the period that began in 1991 was 2011, when the number sank to 3,653.

One promising sign is that shipping company Hanjin continues to schedule vessels at the Port of Portland.

The shipper previously announced it was leaving the port in January. It handles about 80 percent of the containers that go through Portland and about 15 percent of those moving through Lewiston.

The reduced volumes will make it tougher for the Port of Lewiston to meet goals it has set for its container dock, which it recently extended. The port won a $1.3 million federal grant for the $2.9 million project.

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