A $5.7 million expansion of a fiber optic line in north central Idaho is the biggest item in the Port of Lewiston’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The upgrade would move forward if the port receives a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

That money, along with $1.25 million from the port, would be used to construct a 95-mile fiber optic line going from Moscow to Lewiston to Grangeville anticipated to have a number of benefits such as making the system more reliable.

“I think there is a very high probability it will come through,” Port Manager David Doeringsfeld said at a Wednesday meeting where port commissioners reviewed the draft budget.

The grant would be administered by the Clearwater Economic Development Administration.

The investment would expand a communications network that the Port of Lewiston has been installing over several years in Nez Perce County.

It serves major employers such as Vista Outdoor, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and Lewis-Clark State College, as well as the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.

The port has also earmarked an additional $759,150 to add on to the communications network in fiscal year 2022.

The network is linked to one in Whitman County that reaches Idaho through a line that goes east into Nez Perce County from the north end of the Red Wolf Crossing Bridge.

Counting the project, the port’s proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year is $8.2 million, compared with $1.98 million for the present fiscal year.

Aside from the grant, the biggest sources of revenue would be rentals ($537,365), property taxes ($405,000, the same amount the port has received since fiscal year 2017) and its Inland 465 warehouse ($325,000).

On the expense side, wages, salaries and benefits are the largest item besides upgrades to infrastructure. They are expected to be close to $500,000 in the upcoming fiscal year for the port’s entire staff.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.