Columbia River Jetty Rehabilitation
Three Jetties at the Mouth of the Columbia River (MCR) maintain the depth and orientation of the navigation channel for larger ships and create a safe entrance/exit for commercial and recreational vessels of all sizes. The Jetties are composed of boulders stacked on top of each other and extending out into the ocean. The 6.9-mile South Jetty was constructed between 1885 and 1913. The 2.5-mile North Jetty was built in 1914-17. The one-mile Jetty “A” was constructed in 1938-39.
Frequent and large storms during the past few years have accelerated wave damage to the Jetties, thereby risking navigational safety. Outer sections of the Jetties have completely eroded away, other sections have been at risk of breaching, and receding beaches have exposed greater portions of the Jetties to wave damage. If either the North Jetty or the South Jetty breaches, sand would fill and restrict shipping in the navigation channel. Such an breach would essentially shut down commercial and recreational navigation at the mouth of the Columbia River and require very expensive emergency measures to repair the Jetty and restore the channel depth.
Short-Term Repairs: Interim repairs to the North Jetty were funded by Congress and completed in 2005. Interim South Jetty repairs began in 2006 were completed in the fall of 2007.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently evaluating the reliability of the Columbia River jetties and the preferred alternative to provide long-term navigational safety. This extensive process includes environmental and other required approvals.
Federal funds for the Columbia River jetty rehabilitation study were included in the FY2008, FY2009, and FY2010 federal appropriation bills. An additional $21.1 million will be required in FY2011 for dredging the entrance channel at the Mouth of the Columbia River, a 3-D model and detailed design report for capping the North and South Jetties, completion of the ESA consultation, other environmental clearances, as well as letter reports, plans, specifications, and some construction at South and North Jetty areas. Total jetty rehabilitation construction is likely to require $400-470 million in federal appropriations over 20 years.