YAQUINA BAY — A first set of new pilings, which will support a temporary walkway and later the new permanent pier at Port Dock 5 on Newport’s Yaquina Bay, were all driven and cut by last Friday, and contractors began sinking the eastern set this week.
Construction began Jan. 27 after years of planning and months of mobilization to replace the aging pier, which was built in the 1960s and whose pilings are visibly degraded.
To complete the project, the Army Corps of Engineers granted the port an extension to the period in which in-water work can take place. Such work is usually only permitted between November and mid February, but the contractor, Advanced American Construction, now has through March 5, after which it will move on to replacing the deck and gangway.
The pier provides access to the floating docks and vessels from Bay Boulevard. For years, it’s been pedestrian-access only due to concerns about degradation.
“At the end of this project, the pier will be returned to its original operational capacity, which is that it provides driving access out to the gangway,” Port of Newport Director of Operations Aaron Bretz said. “So when everything’s back to normal, the yellow gate will come down, and people will once again be able to drive out to the end of the pier and use their vehicle to stage equipment and supplies.”
The pier is not just a pathway for people — it’s also the route for electrical conduit and water lines to the docks, which will all be replaced as part of the project.
On Friday, workers with acetylene torches were cutting the west side steel pilings off at deck level, first cutting a hole to attach a crane-drawn chain from the inside for lifting away the excess portion, and then welding on angled steel to support the temporary walkway. Bretz said most of the pilings had been driven about 48 feet into the sea floor.
“If everything stays on schedule, we should be wrapped up with this project in May,” Bretz said.
Advanced American Construction, of Portland, was awarded a $2.1 million contract in January for the pier’s replacement. Port General Manager Paula Miranda said with additional costs, such as engineering, the final price tag would likely be close to the $2.4 million originally budgeted. Half of that will be paid by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency.