Monday, August 15, 2005

Prince Rupert port expansion

It was an 80 degree day in Ketchikan Thrusday when a delegation from Prince Rupert was in town to pitch their new port project. It included the Mayor of Prince Rupert and the executive director of the Prince Rupert-based Northwest Corridor Development Corp. As reported in the Ketchikan Daily News, "We're here to share with you an opportunity........." they said.

The KDN reported, "A new container shipment facility opening in early 2007 will provide the fastest shipping times between Asia and Chicago of any West Coast port. As planned, the next phase of the $175 million (Canadian) project will boost the port's container capacity above that of Vancouver, British Columbia."

I guess that there is massive congestion in the other West Coast ports because of all the products coming from Asia. (Our trade deficit shot up 30% last year.) Of course they would like Alaskans to ship their fish to Asia. (Read that, a couple of big processing company owners should ship the fish they bought from fishermen to Asia to be reprocessed and then shipped back for sale in the U.S.) We're talking rail cars and containers here, not something logs fit on very well. Although I suppose you could ship some wood.

30 hours closer to Chinese ports than Vancouver is a statistic all right. It doesn't matter with a container of frozen fish though. And I don't know if that's the direction we want to go in overall anyway. Even though nobody in the seafood industry in Alaska has put forth a strategic plan, a choreography you might say, of how this industry should look. I guess if the big processors won't do it, the ball is in the court of the Regional Seafood Development Associations. But I'm quite sure fishermen don't need another tail wagging the dog that is them.

The investment doesn't stop here though. Canadian National is planning to put $30 million (Canadian) into rail line, yard and tunnel improvements. Then about $125 million in locomotives and rail cars. Then a New Jersey company is putting in $60 million in cranes and other equipment.

Apparently the Canadians are working toward building a road from Rupert to Port Simpson too. Unless this is just politics. They want the Alaska Marine Highway to use Port Simpson instead of Rupert. 90 minutes closer. Another statistic. Is there a gas station in Port Simpson?

These guys think it would be neat for tourists to make a loop around S.E. Alaska, the Bradfield Canal road, even though Canadian people think of the Bradfield road as having "nebulous" benefits, then down to Prince Rupert and Port Simpson. As if a few tourists are going to pay for all that. Maybe they want the AMH out of the way for their port project.


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