Folks all week long have been asking what is going on with that big barge passing up and down the jaws. Well, that’s a contractor under the Army Corps of Engineers that is dredging the Yaquina River Ship Channel. The channel is dredged every so often to maintain a margin of safety for large ships that will soon be picking up logs and taking them half-way around the world to ports in Asia.
The dredge itself operates from a separate barge and is deepening the channel so the large ships can come up as far as the International Terminal then hang a hard left and pull alongside the terminal dock.
However, the very final part of the dredge request- the part that gets a ship from the center of the river to the dock may not be done until around the first of November, per the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW officials say the area around the International Terminal is teeming with young crab, salmon smolts and all kinds of food they’re eating in preparation for them to head out to sea and grow. ODFW wants that new life undisturbed between now and then because it’s part of the natural food chain flow in that part of the river.
But trouble is, if the dredging has to be interrupted, it means that when they re-start in November the dredging operation will have to stop dumping the spoils offshore and start dumping them onshore at special locations. And that on-shore deposition will cost taxpayers another $200,000 to $300,000 more than if they were allowed to keep dredging and keep depositing the spoils off the coast. So quite obviously the Port of Newport is not altogether pleased at the prospect and are seeking permission to keep going so it’ll all be done more quickly and at less cost.
So, stay tuned.