The Port of Astoria Commission on Tuesday approved spending more than $250,000 to investigate an ultimate fix for the west side of Pier 2, a badly deteriorated dock where fishermen deliver their catch and where a seafood-processing warehouse is sinking because of a failing seawall.

Stephen Whittington, an engineer with KPFF Consulting Engineers, said the main issues are deterioration and a failing sheet pile bulkhead causing the warehouse to slowly sink.

Pier 2

Crabbing boats unload on the west side of Pier 2 in 2016.

“The warehouse building is just a matter of two steps from that bulkhead wall,” he said.

The solution could include reusing and replacing parts of the existing bulkhead, and possibly moving it farther out into the water, he said. The move would be initially expensive but could stabilize the building while eliminating the need to maintain much of the deteriorating timbers under the dock.

KPFF’s investigation will cost just over $252,000, including a $60,000 contingency, and take eight to 10 months to produce a proposal. The Port has estimated another six months to a year for permitting the project.

“We’re going to work to get to the most feasible options very quickly, present the pros and cons of these things, how much things might cost,” Whittington said. “We’re going to look at ways to stage it hand in hand with your funding.”

Jim Knight, the Port’s executive director, said he foresees the biggest permitting challenges with the National Marine Fisheries Service. The federal agency reviews applications and provides in-water work permits between November and February, when fish migration is at its lowest, to lessen the impact on endangered species.

“We don’t know yet what we’re going to get into when we start introducing our application for permits,” Knight said.

Several years ago, the Port received a $1.5 million state Department of Transportation grant to replace a large area of the deteriorated dock on the west side of Pier 2. Knight recently gave up the grant after the Port was unable to raise the local match of $660,000, and after the agency realized the issues underneath the pier would make any dock work ineffective.

While Pier 2 west is the worst side, much of the structure under the east side is also in need of dire repair. A Department of Transportation inspection late last year found 48 bents “with minimal or no bearing under the timber posts or on top of the timber piles.”

The state recommended an immediate 3-ton weight limit and a complete closure of the east side of the pier beginning this month if the repairs were not completed. The Port has enacted the weight limit and repaired several of the bents in-house, but has not shut the pier down.

A similar state recommendation led the Port to shut down a causeway over the East Mooring Basin last year.

It will take months before the Port can finish enough of the repairs to remove the weight restrictions on Pier 2, Knight said, but the east side of the pier is not as bad as the west.

“We’re not in trouble with ODOT,” he said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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