Major construction work to replace three waterfront bridges in Astoria is well underway, but contractors are behind on the bridge the city hoped would be completed first.
Business owners at the base of 11th Street say their profits have taken a severe hit this winter because of the bridge replacement work. Construction has closed direct access to a large building on Pier 11 that houses a number of businesses and has also limited parking availability.
In an update to the City Council on Monday, Assistant City Engineer Cindy Moore said contractors discovered roadway damage and issues with a tunnel that runs under 11th Street when demolition work began on the short bridge that leads out to the pier.
Crews have since stabilized the tunnel and replaced a deteriorating storm pipe. A crane is now back at work on 11th Street removing old piles. Moore expects contractors to start installing new piles this week.
The same contractor is working on all three bridges at the same time, and work on Seventh and Ninth streets is farther along. All work on the three bridges must be completed by the Memorial Day weekend.
The project, managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation on behalf of Astoria, aims to replace six waterfront bridges in the city. The short structures at the bases of Sixth Street through 11th Street provide access to the Astoria Riverfront Trolley tracks, the Astoria Riverwalk and the piers beyond.
The city opted to replace the six bridges instead of continuing to make costly repairs each year. The bridges were already restricted to a 3-ton load limit, the lowest allowed before a bridge must be closed to all vehicles.
Businesses have continued to adapt to the disruption caused by ongoing construction. The Naked Lemon, a small bakery at Pier 11, announced at the end of January that the shop would be closed to the public beginning in early February. The bakery will continue to take and fill custom orders and host events.
“Though this is not our preferred choice, this shift gives us flexibility to use our resources to focus on what we do best — creating cakes, cupcakes and french macarons,” a post on the bakery’s Facebook page stated.
The city worked with the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association on more signs to help businesses during the construction — with mixed results, business owners said.
Work on the next three bridges will begin in October.