Port approves use of warehouse funds for crane

The Port of Olympia commission has approved redirecting some money originally intended for a second marine terminal warehouse and applying it to the purchase of a used, mobile harbor crane.

The commission voted unanimously this week to authorize $2.5 million for the crane, port finance director Jeff Smith said.

The final cost estimate for the crane is about $3 million. The additional money for the crane will be paid out of the port’s general fund, he said.

And a crane has been picked out. The port has a signed contract to acquire a German-made crane in Antwerp, Belgium. It was built in 2005 and is considered to be in good condition and has passed two inspections, he said.

The port also hopes to save on shipping costs by having the crane picked up by a ship already bound for the Port of Everett, Smith said. The Everett port has purchased a similar crane made by the same German manufacturer, he said.

Although the commission approved the use of the warehouse funds, some citizens questioned the need to buy. Why not rent the crane? they asked.

The port previously tried to rent but it wasn’t the right type of crane, Smith explained. The other challenge is renting a crane of that size. The port’s new crane can lift up to 140 metric tons, one of the biggest lifting capacities in Puget Sound, Smith said.

The commission approved redirecting funds on Monday, but approved the purchase of the crane, for an amount not to exceed $5 million, last December, he said.

The $2.5 million became available because the commission rejected awarding a bid in July for the second marine terminal warehouse after larger environmental concerns were raised about the marine terminal.

The port sought the second marine terminal warehouse because it needs additional space to store cargo, such as for ceramic proppants, or fracking sand, that the port imports and ships to North Dakota for use in oil exploration.

This isn’t the first crane for the port. Two port cranes previously dominated the city’s skyline for years, but they finally became outdated. The port paid to have them removed in spring and then they were shipped to a salvage yard in Canada.