Neah Bay dock work of $13 million expected to be finished this summer
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The first phase of work on Neah Bay’s commercial dock is about halfway completed. — Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

NEAH BAY — Work on $13 million in dock improvements should be almost completed by the beginning of August as the tribe’s decrepit commercial pier is replaced, Port of Neah Bay Director Bob Buckingham said last week.

The dock work is of vital importance to the Makah fishing fleet, he said.

The work is the first phase of a two-part project that includes an additional $6 million in moorage improvements to support an expanded role for oil-spill-and-response vessels, which already dock there, said Chad Bowechop, Makah affairs manager.

For construction on Phase 2, which is scheduled to begin in 2015, funding help is sought from the shipping companies that ply the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

First phase

The first phase entails construction of a 410-foot dock that has a two-lane trestle for vehicles, a 130-foot pier, an icehouse, expanded ice production and a warehouse that includes offices.

When completed, it will allow for sorting, packing and shipping directly from the dock aboard semi-trailers that cannot now safely traverse the fragile pier.

The ice-house may not be completed by the end of August, Buckingham said.

Building costs had been estimated at $7.6 million, but a low bid of $10.4 million was awarded to Jacksonville, Fla.-based Manson Construction, Buckingham said.

He said design, engineering and other “soft” costs have upped Phase 1’s price tag to more than $13 million.

Funding includes a $1 million federal Economic Development Administration Grant awarded almost two years ago in May 2012.

“There were several community meetings to determine what the best replacement was to serve today’s needs,” he said.

Delays also were caused by failed efforts to obtain federal dollars, Bowechop said.

“What we are finding is that because of the widening of the Panama Canal, all federal money is going to improving East Coast infrastructure.”


Manson was given the go-ahead to begin construction Dec. 26, and the dock is about half completed, Buckingham said.

Serious injuries sustained by a driver whose forklift broke through the dock “did expedite construction on it,” he added.

The dock, more than 60 years old, provides moorage for about 70 tribal and non-tribal vessels and is meant to allow storage and transferal to semi-trucks on the pier.

But it had become so unsafe that semi-truck traffic has not been allowed on it for eight years, tribal Chairman Timothy Greene told a U.S. House of Representatives House appropriations subcommittee April 24, 2013.

“This commercial dock represents over $6 million in fish landings annually, which are shipped around the country and internationally,” he said.

“It supports about half the working-age population of Neah Bay and over 100 minority-owned enterprises.”

Bowechop said the tribe continues seeking funds from the federal government and also is looking to shipping companies to foot the bill.

“Now that we have invested $10 million of our own money, we are inviting the industry to chip in for the rest of the dock, the approximately $6 million,” he said.

“We are trying our best to convince the industry that in order to meet your federal response standards, you need to help us invest in the infrastructure, that portion of the dock that’s dedicated to moorage and stationing of the response assets.”

Those assets include two 80-foot and 100-foot oil-spill-response vessels, associated smaller aluminum craft of 20 to 30 feet, and barges.

“One of the main efficiencies has been oil storage, and now we are talking about larger barges,” Bowechop said.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at

Last modified: April 20. 2014 7:57PM
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