General News

City eyes erosion issues on Riverwalk

ASTORIA, Ore. — It is Astoria’s most-used park and one of its iconic attractions, but the Astoria Riverwalk along the Columbia River took a beating during storms this winter.

Created in the mid-90s, the Riverwalk has never seen so much damage in terms of the number of locations affected. City staff met with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this week to look at the damage and try to get funding to fix it.

Around 70 sections along the trail have been damaged. The sections vary in size, but some are around 100 feet long, according to City Engineer Nathan Crater.

An area just east of the Columbia River Maritime Museum was already a trouble spot in the past and the bank eroded even more after a storm in the last week of December.

Just north of City Lumber, Crater pointed to a spot where the top four or five feet of the bank has eroded. He said it is typical of the issues on the trail the city saw after storm events this winter.

“In this particular location, we have newly installed Riverwalk lights and associated electrical conduits,” he added. “So this is certainly going to be one of the priority locations that’s repaired.”

East of 39th Street, the path itself has been undermined.

Crater says the damage can be tied to a combination of three factors: high king tides, a storm surge that added additional height and strong winds that caused waves to break on the riverbank.

“When the water gets up there, it breaks,” Crater said. “It has that force. It’s going to pull material out.”

Repairs to the riverfront trail are estimated to cost $2.3 million. The biggest expense will be east of 39th Street where trestles need to be upgraded to allow access for construction equipment. The rest will go to installation of large boulders — rip-rap — and asphalt repair.

Whether FEMA will fund the repair work depends on if the agency thinks there is enough damage to meet its guidelines.