Oct. 19, 2019 — The Port of Siuslaw has completed a major upgrade to one of Historic Old Town Florence’s most visited locations, Mo’s Restaurant on Bay Street. The popular seafood eatery has been a tourist destination for the past 20 years and hundreds of thousands of individuals have used the aging walkway to go in and out of the iconic riverside location.
The sheer numbers of footsteps, coupled with the toll of the Siuslaw River and coastal weather, had inflicted on the wooden walkways and supporting understructure was significant.
The need for attention to the port’s infrastructure in and around the marina has included earlier upgrades to security fencing, electrical stations and waste removal systems.
There have also been significant upgrades to the camping and RV facilities the port maintains east of Old Town with the addition this summer of full-service RV sites along the riverfront.
Port of Siuslaw Manager David Huntington and port commissioners had budgeted for the Mo’s upgrade and posted the job requirements and associated specifications last year. At the time, they only received one bid to undertake the project.
“The port has made it a priority to upgrade to upgrade our facilities and the Mo’s walkway has been a concern for a few years now. We’ve repaired it a number of times, but it had reached the end of its life expectancy and was becoming a safety issue, so we decided we had to replace the old wooden walkway with a material more suited for this environment,” Huntington said.
The single bid received was from Oregon Marine Construction (OMC) which came in at just over $158,000.
Brien Mill is the area coordinator for OMC and recognized the potentially dangerous state of the walkway while working in and around the dock area behind Mo’s.
“The walkway had really deteriorated over the years. Most of the support beams are wood and needed serious attention. I saw the condition and talked with the port manager about it,” Mill said. “When the job was approved by the commissioners, we bid on it. I was really surprised to hear that we were the only company to bid on it.”
The need for maintenance on port-held properties is nearly constant. Much of that work is routine and accomplished by port staff, but some projects, like the replacement of the walkway and the utility trusses that are housed beneath the walkway, needed additional discussion and authorization by the Port of Siuslaw commission.
“We budgeted for it in last year’s budgetary cycle and we planned for it to happen this fall, when we usually work on off-season projects,” Huntington said.
In addition, there are other problems in and around the marina that arise. Those vary from retrieving a lost boat engine to diving below water lines to repair the pipes and conduits that provide electricity and water to long-term renters of slips at the port and the businesses that are located along the Siuslaw River.
Some of this type of work can be done by the employees, but if the job calls for extended underwater work or metal fabrication for infrastructure, others are called upon to assist.
Mill has been a recurring and important presence on the waterfront for years and has worked on a variety of projects for the port and for many individual boat owners. This familiarity with the water and the effects of the river and the tides on the docks and boat slips in the marina has given Mill a unique and valuable perspective.
Mill has also taken a personal interest in not only the structural integrity of port properties but also the manner in which the work he and the team from OMC integrates modifications into the specific project under consideration.
His metalworking skills and his sense of the history and culture of this area is extensive and informs all of his work. That was definitely the case on this project as Mill realized it was imperative to retain the classic feel of the restaurant while improving the structural integrity of the entrance to the building.
According to Mill, “The walkway needed a lot of work and took about three weeks from start to finish, but it was worth it. It is a lot safer now and I think it looks great too.”
The cultural and financial importance of Mo’s was one factor in the tight timeline proposed by OMC and Mill is pleased the project went well.
Another aspect of the improved utility truss installed underneath the walkway, which connects the restaurant’s fire suppression system to the building, adds a local flavor to the upgrade while helping to hide the utility and water lines running from the street to the restaurant.
Mill decided there was an opportunity to add to the city’s public arts focus by contributing his time and the materials necessary to add a unique and interesting touch to the walkway.
“As you may have also noticed, the utility-hanger truss on the bottom was designed and painted to resemble our Siuslaw River drawbridge. There have been several art projects popping up around town, and I wanted to contribute. I had this unique opportunity to use the Mo’s walkway as a canvas, so I took advantage of it,” Mill said.