Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek floats $40 million buoy for imperiled Port of Portland shipping terminal

By Bryce Dole (OPB )
May 16, 2024 10:36 p.m.

If the Oregon Legislature approves the funds, the Port of Portland says it won’t have to end container services in October.

Gov. Tina Kotek wants to dedicate $40 million in state funds to keep Oregon’s only shipping container terminal open.

South Korea-based container carrier SM Line made its inaugural vessel call at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6 in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

The Port of Portland's Terminal 6 pictured in a 2020 file photo. Gov. Tina Kotek has proposed $40 million in state funds to help the agency.

Donald Orr / OPB


Facing rising costs and more than $30 million in losses, the Port of Portland previously said it couldn’t stay open after a deal with a third-party operator fell through. Now officials say they will continue providing container shipping from Terminal 6, which is critical to the region’s economy.

Related: Port of Portland will end shipping container service in October

“Having represented the Port’s home district in the Oregon Legislature for many years, I understand that the terminal’s location makes container operations at Terminal 6 economically challenging,” said Kotek, who represented North Portland in the Legislature for more than a decade. “In response, I am proposing to invest $40 million in state funds to allow container service to continue and communicate my expectations for reliable and sustainable service moving forward.”

Kotek’s office said in a news release that $35 million would come from the governor’s 2025-2027 budget, and they will be requesting the remaining $5 million from the legislative Emergency Board at a meeting in September. Each would require approval from lawmakers.


In a statement, Port of Portland Executive Director Curtis Robinhold said he was grateful for the support of the governor and the Oregon Legislature.

“This level of government and community support is something Oregonians should be proud of,” said Robinhold, who was former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s chief of staff before working for the port.

Kotek’s news release said that $20 million would be invested in a program to support ports with active container service, $15 million would address costs stemming from the Lower Columbia River Channel Management plan and $5 million would go toward operations at Terminal 6.

As part of her move, Kotek requested a report from the Port of Portland that would assess the Port’s steps, reduce losses in the 2025 budget year and increase container shipping.

The container terminal is pivotal to the region’s economy, including its businesses and farmers. Toys, electronics, lumber, grass seed, hay and animal feed are shipped out of the terminal. It also supports the shipment of crops from eastern Washington and Idaho as they pass down the Columbia River before being loaded onto ships for the ocean.

The terminal also supports the jobs of hundreds of people who work directly at the terminal or in other jobs that connect to it, like shippers or truckers.

The Port, which owns and operates the Portland International Airport, has seen its container operations struggle in recent years, most recently a projected $14 million shortfall for this year. Earlier this year, Port leaders asked the Oregon Legislature for $8 million to support operations. Lawmakers said no.

The Port said in a news release that Kotek’s proposed investment would help the agency work through short-term deficits while working to reach an agreement with a new third-party operator.