Project updates provided to port commission


NEWPORT — Updates on several projects were presented to the Port of Newport Board of Commissioners when it met virtually on Sept. 29.

Pier replacement at Port Dock 5 continues to move forward, according to updates provided by General Manager Paula Miranda and Director of Operations Aaron Bretz. Commissioners were updated on the efforts of HDR, the project management company overseeing the Port Dock 5 reconstruction.

HDR, according to Miranda, is currently preparing the documents needed to get the contractor on board.

“We foresee an RFP (request for proposals) going out for construction work within the next month or so. We are hoping to stay on track for the in-water work window,” she said.

With roughly five days of in-water work needed and a state-prescribed window of November through February to complete that work, hiring a contractor who can meet those timelines is one key consideration.

If the worst-case scenario occurs and the work cannot be completed by the February deadline, that stage of the project would be pushed to November of 2021. Commissioners expressed concerns about the pier replacement coinciding with the build-up to Dungeness crab season, but Bretz offered reassurances.

“You will still have access down to the boats, no matter what,” he said, explaining the plans for a temporary structure and time-sensitive sequencing to have the least impact on fishing boats. “We are going to work with the Commercial Fishing User Group as best we can,” Bretz added.

Upgrades to the electrical system at Port Dock 5 and Port Dock 3 were also discussed. Users in the commercial marina agreed to an increase in moorage fees over a three-year period in order to get new electrical pedestals upgraded to 50-amp service. 

An unexpected project also found its way to the commission agenda when one of two 5,000-gallon tanks used to collect bilge waste from commercial fishing vessels sprang a leak at the commercial marina. Waste was captured in a containment area built around the tanks.

Bretz updated the board on the cleanup of the containment area and the need to remove the tank. Commissioners approved up to $21,708 to engage a Salem company to remove the tank and complete cleanup of the area. Plans for replacing the tank and any other equipment to handle the waste will be presented at an upcoming meeting.

At a work session following the regular meeting, Commissioners and staff continued discussions of a new administration building. Currently, the port’s administrative office is located in a trailer facility that was intended to be temporary when it was put in place eight years ago.

Designs for a new building were drafted in 2014 but the project never moved beyond the design stage. In light of a larger staff, the constraints of the current building, and low interest rates resulting from the economic impacts COVID-19, the project is under consideration again. Commissioners asked for follow-up information on the status of other port projects and the organization’s ability to financially handle all the necessary projects. Miranda was given the go-ahead to gather cost quotes from design and geo-technical firms as the first step to help commissioners determine whether a new building is feasible.

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