Archive for December 2009
By combining design and construction in one contract at a fixed price, taxpayers are assured that costs are controlled and the contractor team has more opportunities for innovations.
To all of you following the SR 520 Pontoon Construction Project, we appreciate your interest. We’ll be back in the New Year with more news and progress. Happy Holidays!
SR 520 project links
SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program | I-5 to Medina: Bridge Replacement and HOV Project |
Medina to SR 202: Eastside Transit and HOV Project | Pontoon Construction Project | Lake Washington Congestion Management Project
The pontoon project is estimated to support more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. We look forward to breaking ground in Grays Harbor County late next year, and a new SR 520 bridge is scheduled to open in 2014. For more details about our projects, check out our
Washington has 22,000 miles of national forest roads. It also has Congressman Norm Dicks, chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommitee in the House. Anderson says Dicks was instrumental in getting the funding increase, which will benefit more than fish and wildlife.
"At the same time, it’s also a real economic boon, because this money is going to translate into jobs for rural communities – probably hundreds of jobs."
Anderson says the crumbling road system is a problem that has taken years to create and will require a long-term commitment and funding to fix.
Two state agencies and about 15 conservation groups have formed a coalition, the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, to improve watersheds in the Northwest; they’ll be keeping an eye on the progress. The new slate of maintenance and reclamation projects, called "Legacy Roads & Trails Remediation," should get underway by this summer.
Sarah Burt is an attorney for Earthjustice, the law firm representing groups that have been trying to get the EPA to make these rules since the mid-1990s. She says the agency could be much tougher.
"The EPA has authority to regulate all ships that come into U.S. ports and waters. And so, EPA could have applied these standards to all ships that emit pollutants, in the United States. And that’s what we have been encouraging EPA to do."
Burt says the new rules aren’t more stringent because the agency doesn’t want to put American shipping companies at a disadvantage, compared to competitors registered in other countries where the pollution standards are lax. The EPA also has already exempted about 400 older steamships from having to comply.
Burt says asthma and other chronic conditions are worse in busy port areas because of the smog created by burning bunker fuel.
"After all the petroleum products have been refined out, it’s the sludge that remains – really heavy, really contaminated stuff. And they’ve been using this for a long time, even though engines of all other classes have been forced to run on distillate fuel or Diesel."
The EPA says it will also limit the production and sale of bunker fuel in the U.S. Burt says the agency is asking the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which serves as the "United Nations" of the shipping industry, to approve the rules. The IMO meets again in March.
The Volcano Rescue Team is based in Yacolt, Wash., and is part of North Country Emergency Medical Service, which responds to emergencies across more than 1,000 square miles of southwest Washington, including Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
“We’re often going far into backcountry areas where there is no other way in,” said Tom McDowell, director of North Country EMS. “With a snowcat you can get a large number of people out in the field without our guys having to hike in and without people being exposed to the snow and the cold.”
In some conditions a snowcat could make the difference in saving lives, he said.
BPA used the snowcat to maintain transmission lines and typically sells such used equipment or transfers it to other federal agencies to get the best return for ratepayers. However, the agency determined in this case that donating the snowcat to the Volcano Rescue Team would provide lasting benefit to the region BPA serves.
“For a search and rescue agency that’s covering the area around Mount St. Helens, it’s a huge piece of equipment that would be very expensive to acquire on their own,” said Ulrik Larsen, BPA’s property disposal officer. “Our responsibility is to get the best value for ratepayers. In this instance, if even one life is saved, that’s a very large payoff.”
Larsen is a mountain climber himself. “I knew exactly the sort of thing they’re going out there to deal with,” he said.
The snowcat is valued at about $15,000, making it one of BPA’s largest donations in terms of dollar value and the largest in several years. BPA used the four-person 1979 Bombardier snowcat to access remote transmission lines in winter, but is now replacing the vehicle as the agency updates and standardizes its snowcat fleet.
BPA is a not-for-profit federal electric utility that operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It also markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and one nuclear plant in the Northwest and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA purchases power from seven wind projects and has more than 2,300 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system.
- Design and build a new pontoon construction facility in Grays Harbor County – scheduled to begin in late 2010.
- Design and construct 33 new floating bridge pontoons.
- Store pontoons until they are needed for the SR 520 floating bridge.