On 13 August, the Port of Vancouver USA and its partners cut the ribbon on a $30 million rail project that will help ensure trains move, goods flow from regional businesses and Washington state remains competitive in the global market.

Known as the trench, the project is a key part of the port’s $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access project (WVFA), which helps reduce regional rail congestion by up to 40%, ensuring businesses along the West Coast and between Portland, Oregon, and Chicago can effectively move products from source to market.

The ribbon cutting featured port officials, US Sen. Maria Cantwell, and representatives from the offices of US Sen. Patty Murray, US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Gov. Jay Inlsee. A crowd of about 100 people from various partner agencies, port businesses and community groups also joined in the celebration.

“Everyone speaking today and many in the audience played a huge part in realizing this project, from Sen. Cantwell’s support of freight to Sen. Murray’s hard work on the TIGER grant programme, and all those who provided funding for this project,” said port CEO Todd Coleman. “We thank you for helping keep the Port of Vancouver, our region and our state competitive.”

Sen. Cantwell stressed how critical freight projects like WVFA are to the efficient movement of goods, helping Washington state businesses remain competitive as markets change and trade is increasingly globalized.

“One thing’s clear,” she said. “Freight can’t wait. It has to move.”

And that’s just the point of the trench, which eliminates conflicts between trains entering the port and triples the port’s rail capacity, allowing tenants to efficiently move products like grain, steel, Subaru vehicles and wind energy components.

The trench was completed $8 million under budget and ahead of schedule.

The entire WVFA is expected to be complete in 2017, roughly a year ahead of schedule, and about $50 million under original estimates.

The Port of Vancouver USA is one of the major ports on the Pacific Coast, and its competitive strengths include available land, versatile cargo handling capabilities, vast transportation networks, a skilled labour force and an exceptional level of service to its customers and community.