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Major work planned on Columbia River jetties

ASTORIA — The Corps of Engineers plans major work on the jetties on both sides of the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington that were built nearly a century ago to help ships navigate the channel.

Work is starting next month on the north jetty that could affect access to a popular part of Cape Disappointment State Park for two years. More work on the south jetty in Fort Stevens State Park is scheduled for 2017, The Daily Astorian reported Thursday.

Projects on the entire jetty system totaling $257 million are expected into 2021.

The south jetty is six miles long, and the north jetty is 2.5 miles long.

The Corps recently awarded a $5.3 million contract to Catworks Construction to fill in a lagoon that formed on the inland side of north jetty and to begin stabilizing the foundation. Another $80 million project as early as next year will bring 40,000 tons of rock through Ilwaco and into the park on flatbed trucks.

The work on the north jetty will continue over several summers, and it will likely be more disruptive to park visitors than work at the south jetty, said Mike Stein, state park district manager for Oregon's north coast.

“It's a lot easier for us to administrate on this side because of the physical layout of the facility,” he said.

At Fort Stevens, visitors must travel deep into the park if they want to access the jetty. At Cape Disappointment, the jetty is near the entrance. Visitors must scramble over a portion of the jetty to access Waikiki Beach from a particular parking lot.

The sheltered Waikiki beach has driftwood perfect for building forts and waves that are often ideal for swimming and surfing. The beach on the south jetty is wide and wind-swept, good for walking and clamming but not so good for picnicking or staying warm.

The jetties were never intended as places for people to walk, climb or fish, said Washington Parks spokeswoman Virginia Painter and Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Michelle Helms. People on the jetties have been stranded by high waves and strong winds. In some cases, they have been swept away into the ocean.

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com

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