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News / Clark County News

Columbia River jetty repairs nearing completion

Decadelong project at mouth of Columbia expected to be done by October 2025

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 17, 2024, 3:16pm

The nearly decadelong project to repair the jetty system at the mouth of the Columbia River is expected to draw to a close late next year.

“Construction will require this season and next season, so we anticipate construction being done in approximately October 2025,” said Matt Craig, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Once considered one of the deadliest bar crossings in the world, construction of the jetties between 1885 and 1939 has made the crossing much safer for the hundreds of cargo ships entering the river each year. But the heavy seas and rough winds of the northern Pacific Ocean have taken a heavy toll. Winter storms can bring in waves over 30 feet tall. The Corps discovered all three jetties had been damaged by the waves, jeopardizing the jetties’ structural integrity.

If a critical section of the jetties were breached during a large storm, large quantities of sand could end up in the shipping channel, which could shut down commercial shipping entirely. In the event of a breach, restoring the channel entrance would require expensive emergency repairs.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, rehabilitation work was scheduled in three phases. Work on Jetty A began in 2016 and was completed the following year. The total construction cost was about $20 million. Work on the North Jetty began in 2018 and was completed in 2020, at a cost of $39 million. The last was the South Jetty, which began in 2019. At an estimated construction cost of $166 million, it’s the most expensive of the three phases.

Nearly 295,000 tons of stone have been placed at the jetties. In all, the Corps expects to place about 411,000 tons of stone.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.