By Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2020

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state port has lost a crucial chunk of funding over a technicality for a construction and remodeling project of a former paper and pulp mill shuttered in 2012.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has rescinded a $15.5 million grant for the Port of Everett’s plan to build a cargo terminal on former Kimberly-Clark waterfront real estate, The Daily Herald reported.

The Port of Everett has reapplied for additional grant funding to cover half the cost of preparing the land for cargo, port CEO Lisa Lefeber said, adding that she is optimistic about receiving the grant.

The port expects to start construction in 2021 and finish in 2022 if the funding is granted.

“We’ve waited so long to have the Kimberly-Clark site back in productive use. It would really be a shame if we were unable to move forward as planned based on a technicality,” Lefeber said.

The port first applied for the grant last summer, before it finalized the $33 million 58-acre (23-hectare) purchase. The grant was aimed at paying for construction and offsetting the cost of purchasing the land.

“Because we had already closed on the property, and that was a piece of the project, the Department of Transportation felt there was too much difference in the application,” Lefeber said.

Department infrastructure finance director John Augustine encouraged the port to reapply for the grant.

The port submitted another application in May to the Department of Transportation, increasing its request the more than $17 million.

“There’s always a risk in a reapplication you are not successful,” Lefeber said. “So that is a very big concern and one of the reasons that we fought so hard to make the case that this was not a change in scope.”

Crews started cleanup work at the site in early March and expect to continue later this year after a shutdown order halted work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re continuing to prepare everything as though we will be able to continue to move forward with the project in the mid-2021 time frame after the cleanup is complete,” Lefeber said.

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