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SR 520 pontoon construction coming to Aberdeen


January 11, 2011

SEATTLE – Construction starts as soon as mid-February on a facility in Aberdeen to produce massive concrete pontoons for the State Route 520 floating bridge – a project expected to employ hundreds of workers in the Grays Harbor area.

Plans to build the SR 520 Pontoon Construction Project at the Aberdeen Log Yard gained federal approval this week, clearing the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Kiewit-General Joint Venture to begin final design on the project, obtain permits and then start construction.

“This project will put people to work and bring jobs right to Grays Harbor,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “The Grays Harbor community has suffered during this recession and I look forward to breaking ground soon and helping people earn a paycheck.”

In addition to hiring by Kiewit-General, the project will support suppliers and local businesses as crews begin excavation for the casting basin and then building pontoons.

“We’ll be building the largest pontoons we’ve ever built and we’re counting on these construction crews to work quickly,” state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said. “Puget Sound commuters and businesses can’t afford to have a long-term closure of the 520 bridge, and getting pontoons under construction now puts us in a better position to replace this vulnerable facility.”

In the months ahead, crews will build a casting basin facility that will turn out 33 concrete pontoons up to 360 feet long each. The existing bridge opened in 1963 and is vulnerable to strong wind and waves. In the event of catastrophic failure, the pontoons built in Aberdeen could be used for emergency replacement. If not needed in an emergency, the pontoons can be stored and used for a new six-lane SR 520 floating bridge, proposed to open to traffic by the end of 2014.

WSDOT awarded the $367 million construction contract to Kiewit-General in January 2010. The planned pontoon casting basin will be large enough to produce six pontoons per cycle – four full-size pontoons and two smaller supplemental pontoons. The 33 pontoons include:

· 21 longitudinal pontoons measuring 360 feet long, 75 feet wide and 29 feet tall.

· Two shorter cross pontoons, each 240 feet long, 75 feet wide and 34 to 35 feet tall.

· 10 supplemental stability pontoons measuring 98 feet long, 60 feet wide and 29 feet tall.

“Our community is ready to get to work,” said Tim Gibbs, executive director of the Grays Harbor Economic Development Council. “We welcome the pontoon project and the job opportunities coming to Grays Harbor. With this project, along with others, the economic tide is turning for the better.”

WSDOT identified the Aberdeen Log Yard as the preferred site for the project in August 2009, pending environmental review. The location costs less to develop and poses fewer risks than alternate sites, according to the final environmental impact statement issued in December. WSDOT recently purchased the site for $4.8 million.

The pontoon construction project is funded in part by future revenue from tolling that is scheduled to begin on the floating bridge in the spring. The state Legislature set the SR 520 program budget at $4.65 billion for improvements from I-5 in Seattle to SR 202 in Redmond. Toll revenue along with state and federal funds provide about $2.37 billion for the SR 520 improvements. WSDOT will continue working with the lawmakers to identify additional funding for more improvements in the corridor.

More information about the SR 520 Program is available at


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