Pioneering project reduces regional rail congestion by up to 40 percent

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Port of Vancouver USA won an IHS Dredging and Port Construction Innovation Award for its “trench” project – the new rail entrance into the port.

The trench was selected over projects at Port Miami and DP World London Gateway to win this prestigious industry award, which was presented at a ceremony in London.

The trench is a new east-west rail entrance that eliminates conflicts with north-south rail traffic by bringing trains under the 1908 Columbia River railroad bridge. The unique structure, which is watertight and sits atop more than 410 steel pilings embedded in the river’s north bank, is the cornerstone of the port’s $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access project.

The IHS awards included a rigorous judging process by industry experts. In selecting the trench as a winner in its category, the judges said, “This was an innovative and interesting method of both design and construction, which resulted in more capacity, fewer delays and used innovative techniques, making the Port of Vancouver USA a worthy winner.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of our project and the hard work of everyone involved, including port staff, consultants BergerABAM and HDR Inc., and contractors Hamilton Construction and Rotschy Inc.,” said port interim CEO Julianna Marler.

“This is a very unique and innovative structure with benefits that stretch far beyond the port’s borders. By reducing delays on the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad mainlines, the trench keeps goods from U.S. farmers and businesses flowing to consumers here and overseas. It’s a critical project that helps American businesses remain competitive and supports jobs and economic health.”

The trench was completed in August 2015.

About the West Vancouver Freight Access project

The West Vancouver Freight Access project (WVFA) is a concerted effort by the Port of Vancouver USA to create jobs and generate economic benefit by investing in freight rail infrastructure. The overall project consists of 21 individual projects to improve the ability to move freight not only through the port but also along the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad mainlines connecting the Pacific Northwest to major rail hubs in Chicago and Houston, and from Canada to Mexico.

Projected to reduce current delays in rail traffic by as much as 40 percent, WVFA will lower costs for U.S. manufacturers and farmers, making them more competitive in global markets.

The project is funded through port and tenant investments, funds from BNSF Railway and a number of state and federal grants:

  • $15 million High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grant
  • $13.4 million Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board grant
  • $10 million Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Benefit grant
  • $4.8 million Federal Highway Administration grant
  • $3.9 million Federal Rail Administration grant
  • $2.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant
  • $527,000 Washington State Department of Transportation Freight Rail Assistance Program grant

Construction on WVFA began in 2007 and is scheduled for completion in early 2018.