Friday, July 23, 2010

Bellingham Port Approves New Version of Dredging Plan

Commissioners for the Washington state Port of Bellingham have developed a complex plan to dispose of lightly contaminated dredge material near the Bellingham Shipping Terminal in an existing wastewater lagoon as part of a larger port effort to clean up Bellingham Bay.

Under the new version of the $90 million plan, the port – in conjunction with state toxic substance regulators – would dredge heavily contaminated material left behind in the 37-acre lagoon by Georgia-Pacific Corp. The paper manufacturer turned over the adjacent 137-acre waterfront property to the port in 2005 under the condition that the port clean up any contamination left behind, including in the wastewater lagoon.

Once cleared of the heavily contaminated material, several feet of clean sediment from the bottom of the lagoon would be removed and temporarily stored.

Lightly contaminated dredge material from in front of the Bellingham Shipping Terminal would then be deposited in the lagoon and covered over by the previously stored clean sediment from the lagoon. The port claims this would seal the lightly contaminated dredge material and still provide enough draft clearance for the development of a planned 400-slip marina in the lagoon.

The port originally planned to truck the lightly contaminated sediment from near the shipping terminal to eastern Washington landfill locations, but the cost of trucking the material has risen dramatically and would now add more than $17 million to the total project.

The revised plan still needs to go through a series of reviews and approvals but port officials hope to have the dredging project underway by 2012.

Portland Port Looks to Expand to River Island

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, has asked city staff to come up with a plan on how to use about 40 percent of the 800-acre West Hayden Island for a Port of Portland expansion plan.

The undeveloped island, which sits just east of the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, is one of last open parcels owned by the port available for expansion. Plans to develop the island have been brought up in one form or another for more than 25 years, in each case raising the ire of naturalists, conservationists, no-growth proponents and environmental groups.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams wants to turn about 300 acres of the island into marine terminals, most likely for bulk products like potash and coal, or for automobile import facilities. The 300 acres, plus another roughly 50 acres for rail and road right of ways, is the smallest amount of acreage the port says it can use to justify the estimated $100 million in infrastructure development needed. Adams' plan calls for the remainder of the island to be left undisturbed. The port suggested it could as compensation improve the natural habitat on the remaining untouched areas of the island as well as on nearby Government Island.

Conservation and environmental groups condemned the plan outright.

"We will be coming to fight this with everything we have," Audubon Society of Portland conservation director Bob Sallinger told the Oregonian.

Bill Wyatt, the port's executive director told the paper that expansion is critical to the port's future.

"Unless we can find a way to grow," said Wyatt, "we're pretty much stuck with what we've got."

The nearly 120-year-old Port of Portland is mainly a bulk port with four terminals covering more than 1,000 acres along the Columbia River. It is one of the leading wheat export ports in the United States.

Tacoma, Seattle Continue Opposite Box Volume Trends

The disparity between cargo volumes trends at the two major Puget Sound domestic ports continued through the first half of the year, with Seattle reporting impressive box volume gains over the year-ago period and the nearby Tacoma port continuing to see declining box volume numbers.

For the first six months of the year, the Port of Seattle reported handling a total of 1,003,856 TEUs, a 45.2 percent increase over the first six months of 2009.

Port officials reported handling 421,829 loaded inbound TEUs for the January to June period, a 66.5 percent increase over the same period in 2009. Total loaded outbound box volume was up 40.1 percent to 260,382 TEUs compared to the first six months of last year.

Across the Sound, the Port of Tacoma continued more than two years of steady overall container volume declines, handling 703,711 TEUs in the January to June period, a 12.4 drop when compared to the same period last year. During the first six months of he year, Tacoma handled 226,651 loaded inbound TEUs and 162,777 loaded outbound TEUs, a 5.5 percent and 28.5 percent decline, respectively compared to the same period in 2009.

June Monthly Totals
In June, the Port of Seattle handled a total of 190,129 TEUs, a 49 percent increase over June 2009. It is the third month in a row the port has seen total box volume increase by roughly 50 percent or more over the year-ago period. The port has reported more than a 21 percent increase in total box volume, compared to the same periods last year, in every month of 2010.

Seattle officials reported handling 88,763 loaded inbound TEUs – a staggering 93.3 percent increase over June 2009 – and 38,781 loaded outbound TEUs in June, a 9.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

Port of Tacoma officials reported handling a total of 147,202 TEUs in June, a 3.4 percent decline over June last year. This is the first time this year the port has not seen a monthly double-digit decline in total container volumes. Port officials reported handling 52,240 loaded inbound TEUs in the month of June, a 5.5 percent decline over last June, and 29,487 loaded outbound TEUs, a 28.5 percent drop compared to June 2009.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Long Beach Port Balks at Earlier Funds for City

The five-member governing board for the Port of Long Beach has approved a $12.4 million transfer of port profits to the City of Long Beach, but fell short of approving an accelerated payment plan requested by City Hall that would have required the port to make a second $10 million payment at the same time.

The transfer, based on 10 percent of the port's profits from their last audited fiscal year, must be requested each year by City Hall and approved by the Harbor Commission. The transfer was originally approved by city voters in the early 1980s as an emergency bulwark against temporary financial problems in the city. In 1995, following a devastating one-two punch of a general decline in the national economy and the closure of the Long Beach Naval Station and Shipyard – a major source of direct and indirect jobs for the city – city officials began requesting the 10 percent to boost city revenues. The city council has made the request every year since. Since 1995, the Port of Long Beach has transferred nearly $150 million to the city.

While the city's semi-autonomous Harbor Department, which manages the port for City Hall, has the option to deny the request, it has never done so in the past. State law mandates that the port money going to the city must be retained in a separate Tidelands Fund that can only be used in the tidelands and port areas. However, by diverting funds that would be spent in the tidelands areas for services such as police, fire and maintenance, the city can offset general treasury funds that might otherwise be spent there. The adjacent Port of Los Angeles, managed by a similar Los Angeles City Hall department, has a similar port-to-city fund transfer procedure.

Because the 10 percent transfer is based on the port's independently audited financial reports, there is a lag time of more than a year between when the port makes the profits and the transfer to the city based on those profits. For example, the most recent transfer was actually based on profits during the port's 2008-2009 fiscal year. The Long Beach City Council wants to see the transfer made in a more "real time" manner. Earlier this year, the Long Beach City Council, on the recommendation of the City Auditor, requested two transfers for this year, both to be due on Oct. 1. The first would be based on the audited port financials for fiscal year 2009 with the second based on the port's unaudited financials for 2010.

Port commissioners approved the first payment but balked at making the second on Oct. 1. Instead, the commission said it would attempt to complete its audit for 2010 by January 2011. This would allow the second payment to be made to the city about three months ahead of time instead of the accelerated six-month schedule the city requested.

Commissioner Mike Walter was the lone "no" vote in the board decision. Walter said he was concerned about the payments at a time when the port holds $735 million in bonded indebtedness and faces additional obligations to upcoming development and environmental projects.

The port board must now take up the matter for a final vote at a future meeting.

The port decision also adds some confusion to already decided City Hall actions. Immediately after approving the accelerated port transfer schedule earlier this year, the Council moved to spend nearly all of the second payment by approving $9.5 million in Tidelands funds to repair about 20 percent of the Naples Seawall. The man-made Naples community, bisected by a canal, is protected from the ocean by a concrete seawall that lines canal and ocean front property. The city has said that about 900 feet of the seawall surrounding Naples is danger of failing in the very near future and needs immediate repair.

The Council approved the motion with the caveat that the $9.5 million can only be spent on the seawall repairs if the Harbor Commission approves the accelerated Tidelands transfer. It remains unclear if the port commission's decision on the second transfer meets the "approved" criteria set out by the City Council.

Finalists for Bellingham Port Top Exec Job Drop Out

The three remaining finalists vying for the position of executive director at the Washington state Port of Bellingham have all removed their name from contention after learning Friday that port officials planned to interview more hopefuls for the job.

The three are Jeffrey Bishop, the executive director for the Port of Coos Bay; John Carter, the city of Bellingham finance director; and, Dwight Rives, the director of port construction services at the Port of Seattle.

The three were named to the five-name short-list for the $125,000- to $135,000-a-year position earlier this month after the port whittled down a pool of more than 110 applicants. The three had already participated in final round meetings and interviews with the port commissioners, port staff and members of the public.

Two additional short-listed finalists – former Yuma, Arizona city administrator Mark Watson and Washington State Department of Commerce assistant director of international trade and economic development Larry Williams – removed their names from contention shortly before the interviews and meetings.

Following the meetings with the three finalists, originally said to be one of the last steps in the selection process, port officials announced Friday that they were instructing their contracted executive search firm to go outside the finalists and revisit the pool of applicants.

"We carefully and thoughtfully considered all of the input we received during the interview process. And we greatly appreciate all the time that members of the community and stakeholder groups took to share their thoughts with us. Based upon that feedback, we believe it is necessary to expand the pool of applicants for this key leadership position," said Commission President Jim Jorgensen in a statement.
Port officials now expect to have a new round of finalists for consideration by the end of August.

Imports Drive Port of Oakland to Positive June

Import cargo volumes moving through the Port of Oakland continued to grow during the month of June, leading to a double-digit increase in total cargo volumes despite a noticeable drop in export container volumes.

Oakland, California's third busiest container port, handled a total of 205,480 TEUs during June, a 21 percent increase over the same period last year. Total loaded inbound containers moving through the port jumped 30.8 percent over the June 2009 period to end the month at 73,585 TEUs. However, total loaded outbound container volume at the port dropped to 75,073 TEUs in June, an 11.5 percent drop compared to the year-ago period.

In other Oakland news, the port's seven-member governing board has announced new officer positions.

The board elected Commissioner James Head to serve as president of the board. Commissioner Pamela Calloway was elected to serve as first vice president and Commissioner Gilda Gonzales was elected second vice president. The Port Board will pass a resolution officially ratifying the election at the next board meeting July 20, 2010.

Guam Turns Back Spider Infested Vessel

Guam officials are concerned about damage to the island's environment after thousands of non-native spiders poured out of a cargo ship being unloaded at the island's commercial port last week.

The Guam Department of Agriculture turned away the vessel M/V Altavia after thousands of spiders were spotted by longshore workers who were unloading housing components.

Upon the discovery, dockers notified the port police, who in turn notified the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency. Officials at the GCQA ordered the cargo returned to the vessel and the vessel sent to a quarantine anchorage in the port's outer harbor. GDA officials later decided to not let the vessel, which most recently called in South Korea, return to dock.

Customs officials who boarded the vessel prior to docking cleared the ship to dock.
Guam government officials are now trying to determine how many of the unidentified but non-native spiders made it ashore. GDA Director Joseph Torres described the condition aboard the vessel as an infestation and raised concerns that if the non-native spiders proved to be invasive they could cause damage to the island's environment.

GDA and GCQA officials have been working with the University of Guam to try to identify the spiders, but said experts may have to be flown in or specimens flown out to complete the identification. Officials did confirm that the spiders are not native to Guam.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Celebrating 100 Years: General Construction Company

General Construction Company’s history begins early in the twentieth century, when the company was founded as the Inland Empire Hassam Paving Company, headquartered in Spokane, Washington. After four years the company was renamed General Construction Company. About the same time, brothers Dan and Jack McEachern founded the J.A. McEachern Company in Seattle in 1911. The J.A. McEachern Company had the very first contract awarded by the Port of Seattle, in 1912, to construct their headquarters at Pier 66. The two companies formed a partnership to build the Owyhee Dam in Oregon in 1928 and merged into one company in 1929, retaining the name General Construction Company, and with Jack McEachern as President. Several large projects followed throughout the 1930s and 40s, including the five massive piers that still support the suspension bridge that links San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island and the rest of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the two massive caissons for the first Tacoma Narrows bridge in joint venture with Pacific and Columbia Construction Companies. Other early projects include the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport Oregon, built as a joint venture with Gilpin Construction, a company that was later purchased by GCC; Ruby Dam (later renamed Ross Dam), built as a joint venture with Columbia Construction for Seattle City Light; and many ships built for the war effort during World War II as part of an eight-company joint venture at Seattle’s Todd Shipyards.

General Construction was involved in numerous significant projects from the 1950s through the 1970s, such as Hungry Horse Dam in Montana; the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) in California; the original Hood Canal and Evergreen Point Floating Bridges in Washington State; several large Metro Sewer projects in the greater Seattle area; Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle, and many more.

Robert McEachern, the third generation of family owners, sold General Construction in 1981 to Wright Schuchart, Inc. and General Construction became the Marine Division of that company, with Bill Epping as President. Fletcher Industrial, a successor to Wright Schuchart Harbor, was merged with General Construction Company in the early 1990s, bringing with it significant industrial construction capabilities to do projects such as modular fabrication for the North Slope of Alaska’s oil processing, nuclear facility construction in Oregon and Washington, aerospace manufacturing facilities in Washington State, and numerous pulp and paper and grain terminal projects. In 1987, the Wright Schuchart companies were acquired by New Zealand-based Fletcher Challenge and Bill Urban was named as President of General Construction Company in 1990. The Company was renamed Fletcher General Construction in 1993. During this era, significant projects included the Alsea Bay Bridge in Oregon, the Lacey V. Murrow I-90 Floating Bridge across Lake Washington in Seattle, an aircraft carrier pier for the U.S. Navy in Everett, Washington and Pier 66 on the Seattle waterfront.

In 1996, Mr. Urban and other senior managers at General, re-purchased the assets from Fletcher Challenge and renamed the company General Construction Company. Many large marine and industrial projects along the west coast followed, with significant fish passage projects at Shasta, Ice Harbor, John Day and Bonneville dams; outfalls in San Diego, California and Vancouver, Washington; and the expansion and modernization of industrial facilities for both Boeing and Kimberly-Clark in Washington State.

In 2001, a subsidiary of the Kiewit Corporation, Kiewit Pacific Co., acquired General Construction Company as a wholly-owned subsidiary. In 2003, Ron Morford was named President of General Construction Company and District Manager of the General Construction District of Kiewit. Ownership by one of the nation’s largest and most respected construction companies has greatly expanded GCC’s potential and they have recently participated in some extremely large projects with other Kiewit Districts including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Skyway Segment, the Benicia-Martinez Segmental Bridge, the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Hood Canal Floating Bridge Retrofit and East-Half Replacement.

GCC continues to perform marine, industrial and heavy civil projects, maintaining their long-standing relationships with numerous customers throughout the western U.S., including port authorities, state departments of transportation, various county, city and local government agencies, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S Coast Guard, and numerous private commercial, manufacturing, and industrial companies.

National City Marine Terminal
Contract Amount: $22 Million
Project Start Date: November 2001
Completion Date: October 2003
Owner: Port of San Diego
Designer: Atkinson, Johnson & Spurrier lnc.

The Port of San Diego asked General Construction to construct a 1,025-foot long by 83-foot wide marginal wharf extension to the existing National City Marine Terminal. Work included 146,000 CY of dredging to four different dumpsites. The cellular bulkhead consisted of 2,118 sheet piles varying in length from 60 to 73 feet. General Construction also drove more than 300 24-inch concrete foundation piles for the new terminal expansion. More than 9,000 CY of concrete were placed along with 714 concrete deck panels. The concrete work was made more difficult with the soffit elevation situated below high tide. Concrete formwork also included a complicated forming system for the sheet pile concrete skirt wall. In addition, 2,300 feet of fender system upgrades were performed on the existing terminal.

The project also included stone column soil densification.

Bainbridge Island
Ferry Terminal Project
Contract Amount: $6.6 Million
Project Start Date: August2005
Completion Date: July 2006
Owner: Washington State Ferries
Designer: CH2MHill

This project consisted of demolishing the existing timber trestle, transfer span, apron, head-frame, towers, tower foundations, trestle walkway and bridge seat for Slip 2 of the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal. A new trestle consisting of pre-cast pre-stressed deck units, pre-cast pile caps and bridge seat, and state supplied steel pipe piles were fabricated and installed to replace the timber trestle. A hydraulically actuated transfer span, apron, lift cylinder shaft, along with state supplied equipment (hydraulic lift cylinders, hydraulic apron cylinders, and hydraulic power unit) and related machinery were fabricated, tested and installed at Slip 2. Steel piles, a concrete trestle, and a hoisting mechanism was also fabricated and installed at the Tie-up Slip along with the existing gangway that was salvaged and refurbished.

The trestle deck was paved to match existing pavement and sloped to drain to scuppers and two new catch basins. Pavement markings were painted, signs and security gates ere reinstalled or fabricated and installed. New waterlines, electrical conduit, light fixtures and heat trace were installed and tested.

Hood Canal Bridge Retrofit and East Half Replacement
Contract Amount: $349 Million
Project Start Data: July 2003
Completion Date: March 2010
Owner: Washington State
Department of Transportation
Designer: WSDOT & Parsons Brinckerhoff Quaid and Douglas, lnc.

The Hood Canal Bridge renovation project started in July 2003. The scope of work included replacing both existing bridge approaches, widening the existing west half roadway decks and updating the electric system, replacing the transition truss spans, renovating three existing pontoons, casting and setting 20 concrete anchors, replacing the entire floating structure of the east half of the bridge and providing a new control system for the entire bridge.

The approach replacement and west side widening was completed at the end of 2005. Fourteen bridge pontoons were constructed at Concrete Technology’s graving dock in Tacoma, while the 20 concrete anchors were constructed at Todd Pacific Shipyard and set into place at the bottom of Hood Canal in the summer of 2007. The rehab of the three existing pontoons occurred at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 91. The seven pontoons that made up the new draw span were floated to Todd Shipyard in Seattle where the assembly and outfitting of the new draw span occurred in July of 2007. The bridge was closed for the installation from May 1, 2009 through June 4, 2009 while crews disassembled and floated out the old sections of the bridge and replaced them with the new pontoons and bridge deck. The bridge was re-opened to traffic ten days early earning the full incentive and saving the public millions of dollars in impact costs. The final scope completed was the final rehab work on the west half draw span, which occurred in the spring of 2010. This project won multiple awards including: the Associated General Contractors (AGC) 2010 Build Washington Grand Award for Construction Excellence; AGC’s 2010 Construction Excellence in the Highway and Transportation Division; the Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association’s 2010 Excellence in Concrete Construction in the Public Works, Bridges Category; and the 2010 Project of the Year with the American Public Works Association, Washington State Chapter for Transportation over $10 million.

Todd Shipyard Sediment Remediation Project
Contract Amount: $15.5 million
Project Start Date: August 2004
Completion Date: December 2005
Owner: Todd Pacific Shipyard
Designer: Floyd Snider, KPFF

General Construction performed this $15.5 million project was performed for Todd Pacific Shipyard in Seattle, Washington.
This environmental cleanup project included the dredging of 203,000 CY of contaminated material that was transloaded into rail cars for upland disposal. Two environmental buckets, 24 CY and 27 CY, a 14 CY digging bucket, two hopper barges and one flat deck drain barge, differential GPS, and an electronic tide gauge were utilized to complete the work.
The project also included the demolition of 105,000 SF of pier decking and the removal of 2,600 timber piles. Finally, 90,000 tons of slope rock and under pier capping sand
was placed to further protect the waters of Elliott Bay.

Terminal 30 Upgrade Project
Contract Amount: $32.8 Million
Project Start Date: October 2007
Completion Date: June 2009
Owner: Port of Seattle
Designer: Berger/ABAM

The 43-acre Terminal 30 Upgrade Project included converting a Cruise Ship operations terminal into a container terminal. General Construction Company’s contract called for the strengthening of the existing concrete wharf in preparation to receive new container cranes that were being built overseas. The 1,545 linear foot dock was upgraded using 166 new concrete piles that support a new waterside crane rail beam. In addition a 1,417 linear foot sheet pile wall and concrete cap were constructed to support the landside crane rail beam. Approximately, 59,000 cubic yards of material were clamshell dredged to provide -50 feet MLLW throughout the berth. The existing Cruise Ship Building and associated covered walkway, Auto Import Office and two Security Guard Shacks were demolished while the Longshoreman’s Building and Crane Shop were remodeled with two additional restrooms built. New buildings installed include a Guard Shack and Trouble Service Kiosk. A new container trucking gate system with eight truck scales and two emergency bypass lanes were also created.

Dalles Dam Spillwall
Contract Amount: $45 Million
Project Start Date: August 2008
Completion Date: March 2010
Owner: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Designer: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

General Construction built a spillwall in the stilling basin between Bays 8 and 9 at the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. This two-season project began with site work and the building of a temporary concrete precasting facility. Once complete, GC removed the north fish ladder temporary bridge and approaches, removed a baffle block located 25 feet underwater and repaired a tilted stilling basin slab. Then, to prepare the river bottom for the spillwall, crews drilled, split and excavated rock where the wall would be built. Beginning in Season 1 and finishing in Season 2, crews built 43 precast concrete units, poured more than 4,000 cubic yards of cast-in-place concrete (including 590 lineal feet of leveling slab), set the precast units and installed 178 post-tensioned rock anchors. In the sensitive environment of the Columbia River, environmental permits drove the work schedule and construction methods on this challenging project.