PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Tuesday afternoon, a portion of the East Mooring Basin Causeway collapsed into the water. The causeway had been shut down to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and no injuries were reported. Power to the area was shut off and the Coast Guard was notified that navigation lights would be down. The Port of Astoria will work quickly to restore power and formulate a plan to remove fallen debris.
The causeway has been shut down since 2018 due to structural issues. While the East Mooring Basin is still a popular site for boat launches, the moorage slips have been underutilized as a result of the closed causeway and difficulties caused by sea lions inhabiting the area. With the causeway fenced off, boat owners have been using workaround measures; often taking a dinghy from the shore to their vessels.
The Port has been working on a plan to rehabilitate the causeway and open it back up to the public. Some materials were purchased in 2019 with a plan to rehabilitate approximately 200 feet of the 875-foot structure in 2020. Unfortunately, due to impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was put on hold. Since that time, the Port has been working on the pursuit of grant funding to rebuild the entire causeway. A grant proposal is being submitted to the State of Oregon to supply a portion of the estimated $1.8 million project costs.
The causeway rehabilitation is a priority due to safety and accessibility concerns, but the Port has also had to focus a significant amount of time and resources on rehabilitation of Pier 2, which houses several seafood processing facilities and is vital to the area’s seafood industry. Deterioration of the infrastructure on Pier 2 necessitates extensive repairs, which are estimated to cost between $15 and $20 million. The Port has been working on permitting and design and has submitted grant applications through the United States MARAD program and through the State of Oregon.
Several other projects are also in the works to improve upon waterfront real estate owned by the Port, including a feasibility study for a possible boatyard expansion and the joint efforts with the City of Astoria on a Waterfront Master Plan. At the same time, the Port is facing challenges that affect revenues, starting with the exit of Astoria Forest Products; at the time the Port’s largest customer; in 2019, and most recently with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down cruise ship travel, which had replaced log exports as another main revenue source. Grant funding has become a keystone in the Port’s plan to repair failing infrastructure and invest in improvements that will bring in new revenues, promote development and growth, and contribute to the region’s economy.