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Input invited on Lofall dock project

POULSBO — Public input is now being sought on a passenger-only water shuttle dock to be built in Lofall. The dock is being constructed as part of the Department of Transportation’s Hood Canal Bridge closure mitigation plan.

The bridge will be closed for six weeks in May-June 2009, during which the Lofall-South Point shuttle will run every 30 minutes from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m., allowing for up to 149 passengers per sailing. The route will be the quickest across the Hood Canal during the closure, and should reduce congestion on Highway 101, the main alternate route on land.

The DOT has purchased temporary easement and filed an application for a substantial development permit at the Lofall Community Corporation dock property, according to the DCD. Those wishing to express their thoughts, or be notified as the project progresses, must have written submissions in by Oct. 13.

DOT spokesperson Joe Irwin said though the project will mean Lofall residents won’t be able to use their main dock for about nine months, the final result will be a more environmentally friendly facility with safer and easier access.

“The existing dock that is now used at Lofall will be temporarily removed during the bridge closure and replaced with a temporary 8-foot wide, by 150-foot long gangway and 30x80-foot dock that will allow water shuttles to dock on both sides,” Irwin explained in an e-mail. “Once the Hood Canal Bridge East-Half Replacement is complete in June 2009, the temporary dock will be removed. The existing T-shaped dock will be re-installed and secured with 18 anchors and 12 steel piles.”

The old, steep gangway to the dock will be replaced with a safer one that provides easier dock access. Construction is estimated to cost $1 million. The DOT also plans to remove 58 aging creosote pilings and replace them with environmentally friendly steel pilings. During in-water pile driving operations, Irwin said, a bubble curtain will be deployed to make sure underwater noise levels meet regulations set in the project’s biological assessment.

“All work will take place during the fish window to ensure it will not affect the local fish population. WSDOT conducted an in-depth eelgrass survey and determined that it will be able to place the water shuttle dock in a location that avoids area eelgrass beds,” he wrote.

Creosote-treated piling removal is scheduled to begin at the start of 2009; the temporary float and gangway will be installed in April of next year.

The water shuttle itself will operate for eight weeks, beginning in April, to provide two weeks of practice runs before the bridge closure is under way.

Removal and reinstallation of the existing T-dock will occur from August to October 2009.

According to the Lofall Community Corp. Web site, the corporation’s board of directors has met on more than one occasion with the DOT regarding the project.

Irwin said permitting is 30 percent completed, and the DOT expects to wrap up acquisition and appraisal discussions with the landowners this month.

The overall Hood Canal Bridge Project is currently 84 percent complete. Work is on schedule and will be delivered in time for the May-June 2009 closure, Irwin said.

For more information, call the DCD at (360) 337-7181 or go to www.hoodcanalbridge.com.

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