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Hood Canal Bridge work floats past North End

PORT GAMBLE — There will not be any construction taking place in the old mill site for the Hood Canal Bridge anytime soon.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced Wednesday it has identified three potential sites for construction of the new pontoons for the east-half of the bridge — none of which are Port Gamble.

The three sites chosen for possible development are Mats Mats Bay, north of Port Hadlock, the Port of Everett South Terminal and a combination of existing Puget Sound dry dock facilities proposed by FCB Facilities Team. These facilities include the Concrete Technology graving dock on the Blair Waterway in Tacoma, Todd Shipyards located on Terminal Island in Seattle and the AML/Duwamish Shipyard on the Duwamish Waterway.

WSDOT also continues to review the possibility of building the bridge anchors in the Port Angeles area with the project contractor, Kiewit-General of Poulsbo.

“We would like to keep some jobs in Port Angeles,” said WSDOT Olympic Region communications manager Lloyd Brown.

WSDOT pulled the pontoon project out of the 22-acre Port Angeles graving dock site in December 2004 following the discovery of Native American artifacts, human remains and an official request from the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe. Since then, the agency had received 18 proposals from companies for a new location.

Olympic Property Group president Jon Rose, whose company owns Port Gamble, submitted a proposal Jan. 10 to WSDOT and suggested that construction could take place on the old mill grounds. The site is a 26-acre parcel that is currently used for contractor storage.

However, according to the Hood Canal Bridge Site Replacement Report, Port Gamble was listed as a “high risk” site. Even though it is the closest location to the bridge, numerous upgrades would be needed at the site to make it usable.

The existing piers, pilings, docks and bulkheads would need to be rebuilt and a graving dock would have to be designed, permitted, excavated and installed. Because of the size of the mill site property, a graving dock design would be about half the size of the original Port Angeles site. The reduced size would have required additional pontoon and anchor construction cycles, which would have extended the construction schedule, according to the report.

Rose was not available for comment.

“The urgency in moving ahead was a major factor in our site suitability review,” said Hood Canal Bridge project manager Eric Soderquist. “There may be other proposals that should not be completely ruled out but these three now seem to provide the best chance of getting pontoon construction underway most quickly.”

As for when the pontoons would be installed in the bridge, Brown said if the FCB facilities are used, then it would be in summer 2008. However, if one of the other sites is used, it wouldn’t be until summer 2009 or later.

For more information, go to www.hoodcanalbridge.com.

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