Safe, Efficient Navigation


The Columbia Snake River System is #1 wheat export gateway in the United States.  When combined with other grains, this System is the third largest grain export gateway in the world.  A total of 70% of the soft white wheat exported from the Pacific Northwest is shipped down the Columbia Snake River System by barge.  Overall, 46% of the wheat moving by barge is sourced from the Snake River between Lower Monumental Dam and Lewiston, Idaho.  When combined with other cargoes, barging on the Columbia Snake River System moves 9 million tons of cargo valued at $3 billion each year.  Our river system allows local communities to export their goods to countries throughout the world, and keeps our region competitive in the global marketplace.
2015 SR commerceBargingComparison

A typical 4-barge tow carries as much as 538 trucks. Each year, barging keeps hundreds of thousands of trucks off Northwest highways. Barging has the lowest exhaust emissions in all categories, including Particulate Matter (PM), Hydrocarbons (HC), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Additionally, barging is the most fuel efficient mode of transportation; barges move 1 ton of freight 576 miles on 1 gallon of fuel, rail moves it 413 miles, and trucking, 155 miles.

Barging also has fewer fatalities and injuries than other modes, and has the best safety record for moving hazardous cargo.

Grain barge 3

Every year approximately 4.0 MMT of wheat, largely Soft White, is shipped down the Columbia River via barge from the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This is equivalent to:

    • 70% of all wheat exported from the Pacific Northwest
  • The wheat moved by barge is largely sourced from the upper river system.
    • 46% from between Lower Monumental Dam and Lewiston, Idaho.
    • 54% of the wheat moved by barge moves through one or more of the four Lower Snake River Dams.
  • The wheat moved annually by barge is equivalent to 41,000 railcar loads or 137,000 semi-truck loads.

Source: U.S. Wheat Associates

Additional Information:

Snake River Dams Factsheet

PNWA Inland Ports and Navigation Group Fact Sheet

Recent News on the Snake River dams


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