By Peter Marsh
In the boom years of the 1890’s, there were more than 20 salmon canneries on the Astoria waterfront, but a century later, when developers began restoring these properties, they concentrated their efforts on the five blocks from 6th to 11th Street in the downtown area. Over the next 20 years, several successful businesses had replaced the canneries, including breweries and restaurants with front seat views of the Columbia River.
In 2017, this business model was threatened when the Oregon Department of Transportation condemned the short bridges that allowed for vehicular access to the piers and supported the old rail line that carried the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. The city of Astoria received 90 percent funding to replace the bridges from the Oregon Department of Transportation through the Local Highway Bridge Program, with the remaining 10 percent provided by the city. OBEC Consulting Engineers provided the engineering services. Legacy Contracting of Stayton, Oregon bid $10 million for the job and was awarded the construction contract.
The project was split into two parts: the odd numbered streets (7th St, 9th St and 11th St) were closed to all traffic and reconstructed from Oct. 2018 to July 2019. In the second phase, from Oct. 2019 to June 2020, the even numbers (6th St, 8th St and 10th St) were nearing completion. They can easily be identified by the tall booms of the three crawler cranes that are stationed at each crossing thoughout the job. All businesses on the river-side of the tracks are accessible by foot, but the Astoria Trolley cannot resume full service until the entire project is complete and the tracks re-aligned.