By Mark Edward Nero
Portland, Ore.-based Zidell Marine Corp. confirmed in late September that after being a barge builder on the waterfront for more than 50 years, it is now exiting that line of work.
The last vessel built by the company will be Hull 686, a double-hull ocean-going oil tank barge that is currently under construction for Harley Marine Services and is expected to launch next spring.
After that, it is expected to take several months for equipment to be removed and inventoried before the area is ready to be redeveloped. About 60 workers are expected to be affected by the closure, with some expected to stay on through the cleanup of the site.
The company, which has several barges that it leases and charters to customers, says it will still maintain that aspect of the company through a separate operation.
Over the years, the company’s barges have hauled such items as lumber, grain, chemicals, petroleum products, wood chips, sand and gravel.
Zidell barges, which can be up to 90 feet in width and as long as a football field, are found throughout the entire West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii and at ports on the Columbia and Snake River systems. During its history, the company built more than 300 double- and single-hull barges.
The Zidell family’s 33-acre riverfront property, located in the heart of Portland’s South Waterfront District, has been one of the largest undeveloped sites in the city, but several years ago, even as barge operations were in full swing, the family crafted an in-progress plan to transform the land into a mixed use district complete with parks, plazas and river access.