By Rolfe Boone, December 3, 2013, The Olympian
The first significant dredging at the Port of Olympia in more than 30 years is underway, a project that is expected to deepen and improve access to the port’s marine terminal and the Swantown Marina area, where boats are lifted out of the water for repairs.
Crews with Tacoma’s Orion Marine, the winning bidder for the $5.2 million project, began dredging last week and resumed work Monday.
Dredging crews will have to work around the port’s shipping schedule. When a ship is in port, the crews will move back and forth between Swantown Boatworks and the marine terminal shipping berths, said Alexandra Smith, the port’s environmental programs director.
Crews are working at the south end of the marine terminal, she said.
Plans call for removal of 40,000 cubic yards of sediment from two port sites, with most coming from the marine terminal berth area.
Dredging crews are using two barges. The dredging equipment is on one barge and the dredged materials, which include contaminants, go on the second barge.
The dredged materials sit and drain overnight, and then are loaded into trucks and transported to a disposal facility in Castle Rock, which is “authorized to accept the dredged materials,” according to a port news release.
“The Washington State Department of Ecology has approved the disposal site and is overseeing the port’s implementation of a detailed plan for monitoring water quality during the dredging activity,” according to a port news release.
The dredging is needed at both port sites, because they are not deep enough, particularly along the marine terminal where ships can’t dock directly at the pier. A device called a camel is used to keep ships 5 feet away from the pier, which means that cargo is loaded and unloaded across a 5-foot span. The port wants to eliminate that safety risk and be able to accommodate two, fully loaded ships at berth.
Meanwhile, the port commission voted last week to forego the 1 percent increase to its property tax levy, applying it only to new construction, finance director Jeff Smith said Monday.
That means the port will collect about $4.92 million in property taxes next year. That is in contrast to the original proposal that would have collected $4.95 million.
For homeowners, the levy rate will drop to about 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value next year, down from 20 cents this year, Smith said. So next year, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $38 to the port, he said.