The jetty replacement that has taken two winters is now complete, giving this historic Port Townsend marina new life.

The Point Hudson jetties that form the breakwater for the Port of Port Townsend’s beautiful, historic marina are complete. After two winters of work by Orion Marine Group, the second (south) jetty was completed in February. Boats were invited back to their slips on March 1, 2024. 

All boaters—visitors and permanent customers—will now enjoy decades of protection from easterly and southerly winds, along with an addition of about six feet of above-water protection against rising sea levels.

That is something to celebrate, and the Port of Port Townsend plans to do so with a dedication ceremony at Point Hudson on April 24 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Both phases of the two-year project had to be managed within a narrow window between the end of the annual Wooden Boat Festival in early September, and protection of fish species that come through local waters in late February. Orion got the in-water portion done—which included working 24 hours a day, six days a week—through January and early February. 

“The amount of work to be completed was daunting,” said Port Facilities Director Matt Klontz, “but Orion Marine hammered away and kept their nose to the grindstone to meet the deadline.”

Port Executive Director Eron Berg credited not just Orion, but also the Port Townsend neighbors of the project who put up with the intense construction schedule. 

“I’ve been a part of a number of larger scale public works projects over the years, and this project stands alone with the strong support from the community,” said Port Executive Director Eron Berg.

Klontz also thanked community members. “The community’s interest illustrated a recognition that the Point Hudson breakwater construction was not only generational but unique,” he said. “No other breakwater on the Salish Sea is like the Point Hudson, which uses closely-spaced piles to form a crib to allow the stacking of rock while keeping the footprint at the base of the breakwater narrow.”

During the winter months, the barge and crane from Orion Marine were anchored at the mouth of the Point Hudson Marina for two years. Photo courtesy of the Port of Port Townsend

Orion used vibration technology, rather than traditional pile drivers, to sink the new steel pilings into place. Mott McDonald did the design and engineering, which included replacing an earlier, more industrial jetty rebuild design with one that replicates the historic design.

When the north jetty was taken apart and rebuilt in the winter of 2022-2023, much of the old rip rap was used to create an artificial reef near Point Hudson. Thousands of sea creatures were moved by volunteer divers from the south jetty to the new reef before the south jetty was removed.

The Port expected the job to cost $14.1 million; instead, Klontz estimated the final bill will come in $2 million less. Of that, $7 million came from a federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. Another $2.5 million came from Washington State’s capital budget, with additional funds from the Jefferson County Public Infrastructure Fund (PIF) and the Port’s voter-approved Industrial Development District levy. The IDD funds, Berg said, proved crucial in leveraging the federal and state dollars.

Repair or replacement of the jetties has been at the top of the Port’s capital projects agenda for two decades. The jetties were first built in the mid-1930s, and repaired over the years. But by 2020, the creosoted pilings were rotting, the cable ties were frayed or missing and the soft basalt rock held inside was tumbling to the sea floor. Winter storms at high tide surged through the entire marina, threatening its boats and the use of the marina altogether. 

Taking the north and south jetties together, a total of 365 steel piles were driven and 12,000 tons of new rock was placed inside the piles’ cribbing. Some work remains, including restoration of pavers that lead to the new walkway built on top of the south breakwater.

Sustaining Point Hudson as a functioning marina preserves the estimated 150 employees of Point Hudson businesses, including the 50 boater slips and the estimated 5,000 vessels that visit each year. The marina is also home to Puget Sound Express, and a private boatyard, SEA Marine.