OLYMPIA - The Port of Olympia is in the running to become a manufacturing site for massive pontoons, giant concrete structures that will help support the new state Route 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington, which is expected to open in 2014.
The Port of Olympia, Port of Tacoma and a Port of Tacoma tenant called Concrete Technology Corp. could be sites to build the pontoons and cement anchors needed for the project.
If selected, the Port of Olympia would be a manufacturing site for a portion of the 44 supplemental stability pontoons needed for the bridge. Another 33 larger pontoons are already set to be built at the Port of Grays Harbor, but the Grays Harbor port doesn’t have the room for all 77. The supplemental pontoons measure about 60 feet wide, 98 feet long and 29 feet high, and weigh 2,600 tons to 3,000 tons, John White, project director for the Route 520 floating bridge and landings project, said.
As part of determining whether the Port of Olympia could handle the massive structures, Department of Transportation crews will conduct tests over the next 20 days to determine the load-bearing capacity of the soil at the port, White said. Working in the port’s favor is available space, he said.
“It’s attractive because it has quite a large acreage that could be available to the contractor,” White said.
Once a contractor has been selected by the state Department of Transportation for the pontoons, the contractor will select the locations. A decision is expected in late March or early April, White said.
The room available at the Port of Olympia measures about 12 acres, split between a portion of the port’s log yard and space next to the marine terminal warehouse. About five acres will be needed to make the concrete pontoons, White said.
Port Executive Director Ed Galligan said the port also offers convenience to the waterfront, and port marketing and business development manager Jim Knight added that in some cases, depending on where the pontoons are stored, they could be as little as 50 feet from marine terminal berths.
Once completed, the pontoons would be lowered onto barges and sent to Lake Washington.
The pontoons to be manufactured at the Port of Grays Harbor are so big that they will be towed as is in the water, White said.
A revenue estimate for the port was not immediately available but the work could generate “hundreds” of jobs, White said. “This is labor-intensive work,” he said. “There’s direct labor and then all the suppliers.”
The floating bridge project is estimated to cost $700 million to $900 million, a portion of the $4.65 billion budget for the Route 520 improvements from Interstate 5 to state Route 202 in Redmond.