Washington state

Hood Canal span's giant anchors ready to move

Sometime in the next few days, early risers in Seattle could see six tugboats in the Puget Sound towing enormous, floating, concrete bridge anchors from Todd Shipyards to Port Gamble.

Those 1,000-ton concrete items, shaped like coffee cans, are the new anchors for the floating Hood Canal Bridge, half of which is being replaced by the state Department of Transportation during the next few years.

The anchors were built by the Transportation Department and contractor Kiewit-General over the past four months on a floating dry dock at a cost of around $12 million, according to site manager Greg Meadows.

Meadows said completion of the anchors is a milestone in a project he's proud of.

"There's a lot of smart people working on this one," he said. "I expect my grandchildren's grandchildren to be driving over that bridge, and that's the truth."

The dry dock will be filled with water and sunk sometime in the next few of days, depending on weather.

The anchors then will be tied together into two groups of five, and each group will be towed to Port Gamble Bay by two tugboats. A fifth tugboat will be available to assist the main group, and a sixth will speed ahead with the mooring boom to secure the anchors when they reach Port Gamble, according to DOT project spokeswoman Sarah Lamb.

The tugboats will travel at a maximum speed of two knots and could take up to two days to reach Port Gamble, she said.

Floating bridge

The Hood Canal Bridge, which connects the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas in Western Washington, is the longest floating bridge built over saltwater in the world.

It is one of four floating bridges in Washington state and one of 11 in the world.

It was built at a cost of

$26.6 million between 1958 and 1961. In 1979, a storm with wind gusts up to 120 mph destroyed and sank the western half of the bridge. Replacing that side of the bridge cost $143 million.

Replacement of the eastern side of the bridge was approved in 2005 and budgeted for $471 million, Lamb said.

So far, the project is ahead of schedule and on budget, she said.

The anchors will be moored at Port Gamble until August, when they and 10 others just like them are floated and tugged to the bridge site.

There, they will be put into place, filled with water and sunk to the bottom of the canal. Some of them will sit in 60 feet of water, and others will be under 340 feet of water. On the Web