The Port of Newport Commission has agreed to invest $1.1 million toward the potential development of a federal channel into the Oregon seaport’s commercial marina, it was announced Oct. 30.
The money is expected to be spent on geotechnical exploration and sediment sampling for a proposed channel, as well as plans for a new Port Dock 7 that could handle modern commercial vessels.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the feasibility of a channel after the port asked the agency to explore the possibility. The agency began the study in 2020 and agreed to share the $950,000 cost with the port.
If the Army Corps of Engineers decides to move forward on the project, the agency would take on 90% of the cost to create and maintain the channel, according to port officials.
“The feasibility phase as it was originally scoped did not include sediment sampling, which would have been included in the construction phase,” port Director of Operations Aaron Bretz said in a report to the commission earlier this year.
“However,” he continued, “the presumed existence of a particular type of hard pan, and the fact that it has neither been confirmed nor tested for petroleum hydrocarbons, is causing the Army Corps’ risk model for the budget of the project to go up.”
The project, if approved, would involve dredging the channel to 20 feet below mean low water throughout the marina, according to the port. Additionally, a turning basin would be created and allow for a deeper channel to the hoist dock for bigger vessels.
“Both of these are important and are going to have to be done if we want to replace Port Dock 7,” port Executive Director Paula Miranda said. “We are at a bit of a crossroads here.”