After 20 years of planning and work, the first 103 miles of the Columbia River have been deepened three feet to allow ocean-going ships to pass.
About 40 percent of the wheat exported from the United States passes through the mouth of the Columbia River, said Glen Squires, vice president of the Spokane-based Washington Grain Commission. About 80 percent of the wheat produced in the Pacific Northwest is exported. Deepening the channel will allow deep-draft ships to fill to capacity.
"We can put more grain on a ship. So it not only lowers the cost per ton for moving the grain out," he said, "it makes the region more competitive because of the lower cost."
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