Mill site considered for graving dock work
June 10, 2008 · Updated 7:34 PM
PORT GAMBLE The old sawmill property may come to life once again if the Washington State Department of Transportation deems it so.
Poulsbos Olympic Property Group, which owns the sawmill site and Port Gamble, is the latest company to show an interest in letting its property become a graving dock for the Hood Canal Bridge reconstruction project.
OPG president Jon Rose said the company issued a statement of interest to the WSDOT on Monday.
The WSDOT pulled its pontoon and anchor construction project out of Port Angeles in December after human bones were found on the site in August 2003.
Now, the state is looking for a new graving dock site, 30 acres in size, to build pontoons and anchors for the bridge. Pontoon construction typically consists of digging a large trench in which to build the structure. When complete, the trench would be flooded and the pontoon would be floated into the main waterway and to the bridge for installation.
But depending on the site, that method could vary, said WSDOT communications manager for the Olympic Region Lloyd Brown.
The transportation agency visited Port Gambles 26-acre site a couple years ago about using it for pontoon construction. But Rose said there had been minimal environmental clean up work completed on the site and OPG wasnt interested at the time.
Now, because OPG is finishing its environmental work and is just starting to work on the towns master plan, the area would be a good place for a temporary project.
It would be a nice story for the company to put the (mill) site back to work, Rose said.
The town is also the site for the temporary passenger-only ferry terminal that will be established when the bridge is expected to be closed for eight weeks in 2007 and will transport people between Port Gamble and South Point.
Rose sees this opportunity as an economic shot in the arm as employees of the site will travel through town, local businesses will receive a financial boost and the bay already hosts a portion of the old Hood Canal Bridge. Materials for the project, such as concrete, can be purchased locally, since sources for such materials are abundant in both Jefferson and Kitsap Counties. And there will not be a concrete plant constructed on the site, he said.
The No. 1 environmental quality concern is the water in Gamble Bay, Rose said. That should be the concern of us, the tribe and neighbors.
The act of pouring concrete doesnt seem to be a dangerous action, Rose said, and he feels it can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.
As for finding any bones on the site, Rose said the old mill site has been dug up in the past and no bones have been found within the site.
Brown said the agency hopes to have a location selected by early March and will begin negotiating with the property owners and start the permitting process. No construction can take place until the environmental permits are in place.
Proposals from the 18 companies and agencies have included various plans, such as the DOT purchasing the property outright or leasing it. But the goal is to just find something that works for their needs soon.
There is no existing facility that can accommodate the work we need to do, Brown said.
For the Hood Canal Bridge, there are 14 pontoons that need to be constructed and three existing ones that need to be retrofitted. They also have to build the anchors, which are massive concrete structures that are 40-feet-by-60-feet wide and 19-feet tall.
The agency would also use the site for the reconstruction of the State Route 520 Bridge in Seattle, which is not expected to start until 2008.
Other areas being considered include property on or near Port Ludlow, Skokomish River, Thea Foss Waterway, Makah Indian Reservation, Anacortes, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Everett, Blair Waterway, Shelton, Discovery Bay, Twin River Clay Quarry and Grays Harbor.