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Revitalising the heart of an Oregon port

The Port of Garibaldi, the closest seaport to Portland, Oregon, was established in 1910. The port is home to a Coast Guard facility, lumber mill, fishing charters, and processing plants for fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Port of Garibaldi Wharf

Port of Garibaldi Wharf


The port’s Commercial Avenue Wharf was built in the 1940s over a rock and earth jetty. Its substructure, primarily wood framing with cast-in-place concrete retaining walls, deteriorated badly over the years.

The Port of Garibaldi’s 2010 Strategic Business Plan stated that “the port’s most critical project need is reconstruction of the Commercial Avenue Wharf.” According to the plan, “The port’s physical and economic base depends on the Commercial Avenue Wharf, which must be rebuilt in order to accommodate future business and job growth potential for the economy of the entire district.”

Winter weather and soil conditions presented challenges to the proposed reconstruction. Only a short in-water-work window (IWWW) was allowed for the driving of new steel piles. Maintaining the project budget was critical due to limitations on the grant funding.


Mott MacDonald was selected to provide construction management services for the rebuilding of the wharf, including inspection, management, coordination, invoicing, and compliance. Major components of the work included the following:

  • Removal of all existing wooden piles and support structure
  • Removal of existing reinforced concrete, asphalt, and other materials
  • Design and installation of new steel piles, concrete beams and concrete decking
  • Design for and installation of a five-ton crane

A viewing kiosk was set up for the public, with a bulletin board where updates were posted. Removed piles and creosoted timbers were taken to a certified recycler.


The port’s strategic business plan estimated that 20 to 40 commercial or water-related jobs would be generated when the reconstruction of the wharf was completed. The entire port waterfront was estimated to support 350 to 400 jobs in all.

In a 2014 report, the Port of Garibaldi described its vision of the port as of 2034. “Economic sustainability has become a reality. The port waterfront is active, with adequate loading and staging areas and some new slips for larger vessels. The new wharf maintains an ice house, dredging keeps the bar safe, and tourists enjoy the bustle of marine commerce and new accommodations for families. The port has become a truly vibrant mixed-use area. The scene is one of cultural tourism, with eating and drinking establishments tucked in with active water-related industry."

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