Marine Drive work creates hazard for trucks

OLYMPIA - An element of a planned redesign of Marine Drive along East Bay could pose a serious safety hazard by possibly tipping trucks over, port and city officials revealed during a joint meeting Thursday night.

They learned of the potential problem after a heavily loaded truck was unable to negotiate part of Marine Drive during a trial run Thursday morning.

The Port of Olympia Commission and the Olympia City Council met at the Phoenix Inn to exchange ideas and get an update on the port’s East Bay project as well as the city’s shoreline master plan and comprehensive plan. Military cargo originally was part of the agenda but was dropped because port commissioner Jeff Davis could not attend.

No public comment was heard Thursday, but about 30 people attended. They heard port officials discuss how, during the trial run, the truck scratched the surface of a concrete “island” installed in the road as part of the newly redesigned Marine Drive.

“The test … proved there are some real safety issues,” port Executive Director Ed Galligan said. The concrete island has a 3-inch curb rather than a standard 6-inch curb, but even at that lower level, heavily loaded trucks are in danger of hitting the curb and possibly tipping over, he said.

Trucks hauling logs, boats and windmill blades typically take Marine Drive to get to and from the port’s marine terminal.

Port and city officials said they are working toward a solution for Marine Drive. The port’s director of engineering, Rick Anderson, said that the city’s engineer vows to find a solution before April 9, when windmill blades at the port have to be shipped.


The East Bay infrastructure construction is expected to be complete by May 25, port officials told the City Council. The port’s East Bay project is a mixed-used development that will be anchored by an expanded LOTT Alliance, the new Hands On Children’s Museum and a public plaza.

The port also is working with Seattle developer Tarragon on a portion of the property for more mixed-use development. One idea for the property near State Avenue is a higher-education facility.

Councilmember Stephen Buxbaum praised that idea, although he hopes the facility also would come with housing so students could live there, helping to make Olympia’s downtown more active 16 hours a day. He said he also hopes the development can become a destination for family-wage jobs.

Councilmember Jeannine Roe questioned why residential housing couldn’t be farther down Marine Drive instead of closer to State Avenue, but port commissioners Bill McGregor and George Barner said the port wants to keep housing as far away from the noise and activity of the port’s marine terminal as possible.

“That’s a peculiar location for higher-education buildings,” Roe said about the State Avenue site.

A discussion about the city’s shoreline master plan, which the City Council is expected to take action on in September, highlighted concerns Buxbaum and Councilwoman Karen Rogers have about the port’s NorthPoint development and an idea for a hotel not far from the shoreline. Although both raised concerns about a hotel there, the port’s Galligan emphasized that the hotel is a preliminary idea and that there is “ample time” to discuss their concerns.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403