Port of Pasco History

Going strong since 1940

Port of Pasco History

The Port of Pasco is a local municipal corporation established by the voters of Franklin County in 1940. The Port Commission, the governing body, is made up of three local residents who are elected to a six-year term, with one of the nonpartisan positions up for election every two years.

The Port was originally formed to provide facilities for barge shipments of grain from the area on the Columbia River to the seacoast terminals. Over the years, the Port has continued to provide this capability and much more.

In 1959 with 94% voter approval, the Port purchased a World War II Army Depot, now known as Big Pasco Industrial Center. The facility has 600 acres of land with several miles of railroad tracks and streets and over 1.7 million square feet of buildings. This space, comparable to almost 16 blocks, has been leased to firms to improve the job opportunities of the area. The tenants presently employ almost 450 workers at this location. The Port of Pasco installed the first container crane facility on the upper Columbia River for barging products to and from Pasco. The container barge terminal averages over 2700 containers each year, with most of the containers used in exporting local products.

In 1963, the Port agreed to take over the former World War II U.S. Navy facility, known as the Pasco Airport, from the City of Pasco, and renamed it the Tri-Cities Airport. Over the years, the Port has made major improvements to runways and safety clearance areas, and built a new terminal building for what is now a regional airport. Approximately 700 people are employed by firms located at the Airport facility, including several industrial-type firms and organizations commonly associated with airports.

The Port of Pasco now provides facilities at the Tri-Cities Airport, the Big Pasco Industrial Center, the Pasco Processing Center, and the Container Barge Terminal, totaling assets worth in excess of $130 million dollars.

The Port of Pasco is a port of transportation. Vital transportation links are one of the keys to the Port of Pasco facilities. The area’s geographic location makes it a hub for the entire Pacific Northwest area. Highway access to all the facilities is excellent via interstate 182, U.S. 395 and U.S. 12. Mainline railroad service is provided by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which operates a major switchyard at Pasco. Air transportation, for both passengers and cargo, is available at the Tri-Cities Airport. Barge shipments, bulk and in containers, is available within port facilities at the largest public marine terminal on the upper Columbia River.

The Port of Pasco has issued Industrial Revenue Bonds for development of industrial lands, facilities, services and activities in the Port of Pasco. The revenue bonds provide tax-exempt interest to bond holders, which allows the bonds to be issued at a lower rate of interest. The Economic Development Corporation of the Port of Pasco has established criteria for the eligibility and issuance of its industrial revenue bonds. It is the goal of the Port of Pasco to encourage and assist industrial development at the Port facilities.