The biggest project in the history of the Port of Brookings Harbor is nearing completion.

Russ Crabtree, port executive director, makes no attempt to hide the relief he feels as completion nears. He said if he were asked again, he would keep my mouth shut.

The $2.8 million replacement of the sports basin docks and the renovation of the commercial basin docks has spanned 18 months, longer than expected.

Much of the work was done by the port staff. The docks were constructed in Bellingham, Wash., and then trucked by a Crescent City firm. The port crew assembled them.

The docks are wired and equipped with water lines. Anchoring the water lines on some of the docks replaced are part of the details the port still needs to complete.

All of the docks are in the water. The last docks were put in across from the launching ramp.

The port crews this week were working on what is referred to as the north side of the launching ramp to install a gangway for the new transient docks. Initially, the transient docks were to be built near the boardwalk, but Crabtree changed the location because of the water depth.

Even after dredging the area near the boardwalk, the water was too shallow to support the transient docks. On the other side of the basin, there is good water depth, Crabtree said.

The transient space is important to the port because it has a lot of visitors. The port is a safe harbor, and serves as a refuge for boats heading north and south during rough weather. The other transient space, also fairly new, is located in the commercial basin. In addition to transients, that dock space is used by some of the larger commercial fishing boats.

Although technically not a part of the project, the port also plans installation of 120 feet of public fishing pier. It will be assembled from concrete docks anchored to metal pilings. Work is progressing this week.

Of the cost of the project, the port has loans of $1.8 million. The balance was from grants.

Crabtree said the agencies that provided the grants have been keeping close tabs on the project. He said they were a little nervous about the project because the port was doing most of the work.

By demonstrating it has been able to build such a large project, the port will be in a better position when seeking funds for the next project.

But, Crabtree says he isnt planning anything of that scope in the near future.

The port is waiting for the outcome of an Army Corps of Engineers study to determine what will be needed to ease the surge problem. That project could cost as much as $1 million. That work is expected to be primarily covered by grants.

The tidal surges of the water in the harbor cause extensive damage. It has been known to break pilings, docks and even damage boats.

Part of the analysis being made by the corps is determining the cost-benefit ratio of the work, Crabtree said.

Another project is the installation of aerators to use during the summer to discourage the accumulation of algae in both basins. It is unsightly, gets on the docks and boats. It also coated the old launching ramp, making it unsafe for boaters launching their boats.

Crabtree hopes to have the aerators installed by next summer.

Another project is the installation of another launching ramp that would take the pressure off the new launching ramp during the peak of the salmon season.

(A delegation of Brookings representatives this week was in Sacramento lobbying the regulatory council for another successful fishing season. Crabtree said they never stop. Among those in Sacramento were Jim Welter, port fish adviser, and Ken Byrtus of the port commission.)

With the installation of the new docks, Crabtree said he has stopped hearing complaints from fishermen. The old wood docks were the source of concern, and with their removal and replacement, the fishermen are happy, he said.