• SR520 Pontoons on the move in October

    ABERDEEN – Two new State Route 520 bridge pontoons left Aberdeen for Seattle this weekend, while another two pontoons will follow next week. 

    Currently, eight pontoons are located in the Grays Harbor area: two pontoons completed in Cycle 2 – longitudinal pontoons Q and R – and six pontoons completed in Cycle 3 – longitudinal pontoons M, N, O and P and supplemental stability pontoons BSW and BSE. 

    The Cycle 2 pontoons are currently at a moorage site in Grays Harbor, while the Cycle 3 pontoons are at the Port of Grays Harbor. Pontoons BSW and BSE were towed last weekend, and pontoons Q and R will leave next week. Pontoons M, N, O and P will move to the Grays Harbor storage site. 

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  • Third batch of State Route 520 Bridge Pontoons to float from Aberdeen

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – The third cycle of pontoons headed for the State Route 520 bridge will float out of the Aberdeen casting basin later this week. 

    SR520 Pontoon float path

    Sara Phelan with the Washington State Department of Transportation tells us the float-out of these next six pontoons marks the halfway point for the Aberdeen site. WSDOT has now completed 38 of 77 pontoons needed for the new SR 520 floating bridge. In all, crews will build 77 pontoons – 33 constructed in Aberdeen and 44 in Tacoma – for the new SR 520 floating bridge. With the third Aberdeen cycle complete, crews have finished 18 pontoons in Aberdeen and 20 in Tacoma.

    The first of six pontoons will leave the casting basin around 10 Saturday morning.

    Just like the last float-out, the huge concrete structures need to leave the port facility during the highest tides possible. The pontoons will then be towed to a separate moorage facility in Grays Harbor until they are towed 260 nautical miles around the Olympic Peninsula to Lake Washington at a later date.

    SR520 Pontoon Construction Site in Aberdeen

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  • Key cracks repaired in SR 520 Pontoon W

    SEATTLE, Wash. – Repairs to Pontoon W have been completed at a drydock location on Harbor Island, ensuring that cracks are sealed, the pontoon is watertight and the new State Route 520 bridge will meet its 75-year design life. This is the second of two pontoons repaired in drydock, while two remaining pontoons from Cycle 1 will be repaired on Lake Washington. The pontoon was floated out of the drydock on Tuesday afternoon Sept. 10.


    “We’re very pleased with the results of the repairs implemented on pontoons T and W in drydock,” said Dave Becher, Washington State Department of Transportation construction manager for the SR 520 Floating Bridge and Landings Project. “We have ensured the watertightness of these pontoons by using epoxy injection, transverse post-tensioning, and applying carbon fiber wrap—all repairs endorsed by our expert review panel.” A video that shows and explains the repairs made to Pontoon W is available on YouTube.


    Before returning to Lake Washington, however, contractor Kiewit/General/Mason, a Joint Venture (KGM) towed the pontoon to the Manson Construction Company facility on the Duwamish River to remove six round concrete columns built on the pontoon last fall. A total of 10 round columns and two box columns were built atop Pontoon W to support the future highway.

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  • Aberdeen-Built Pontoons Head to Hoquiam June 1

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – Replacement pontoons for the State Route 520 floating bridge will begin their journey to Lake Washington this summer, but June first, they leave the casting basin in Aberdeen and make a short trip to Hoquiam.
    We have the contract to get them to the Port, then there’s another contract to take them up the coast. We’re thinking WSDOT that we’re working with here will buy the pontoons within 24 hours – Project Director Phil Wallace
    Wallace, with Kiewit General, told Port Commissioners on Tuesday that the six pontoons will rotate out of Terminal 4 in Hoquiam while the Washington State Department of Transportation works on towing the biggest pontoons every built 260 nautical miles around the Olympic Penninsula to Lake Washington.
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  • Weekender Report: Enjoy Valentine’s Day together fishing for salmon, watching elk

    Temperatures are warming, birds are singing and spring chinook salmon are starting to move into the lower Columbia River.

    Spring is still a ways off, but February offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with a friend or loved one – maybe even on Valentine’s Day.

    “I suggest that couples looking for a uniquely Northwest experience head to the San Juan Islands for blackmouth salmon,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Fishing, antique shops, nice restaurants – there’s something for everyone.”   

    Not that couples can’t find other great get-aways in other parts of the state. While the bulk of the spring chinook run usually doesn’t arrive until March, opportunities abound to enjoy the outdoors right through the month of February. Options include:

    • Counting birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count runs Feb. 18-21 throughout North America, where birders of all levels are invited to record the birds they see in a 15-minute period. Participants can conduct their count anywhere they choose – including their own backyards – for the annual survey. 
    • Catching steelhead:   Starting Feb. 16, anglers can catch and keep one wild steelhead for the license year on eight rivers on the Olympic Peninsula – the only rivers in the state where retention of wild steelhead is allowed. Meanwhile, anglers continue to catch hatchery-reared steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries.
    • Digging razor clams: If marine-toxin results are favorable, Twin Harbors beach will open for razor-clam digging Feb. 17-19 and four other ocean beaches will open Feb. 18-19. Watch the WDFW website for confirmation that the dig has been approved.
    • Fishing Lake Roosevelt: Anglers are reeling in kokanee, walleye, burbot and rainbow trout from the big impoundment in northeast Washington.
    • Jigging for squid: Winter is prime time to fish for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier.
    • Watching elk and bighorn sheep: WDFW’s winter-feeding program is in full swing at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area 15 miles northwest of Yakima. Watch hundreds of hungry elk and bighorns gather to dine on alfalfa hay and pellets. 

    For more information about these and other fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, see the regional reports below:


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  • Brace for winter and enjoy Wasington Wildlife

    For Washingtonians, the start of the new year is prime time to fish for winter steelhead, dig razor clams and enjoy the annual spectacle of bald eagles, snow geese, elk and other wintering wildlife.


    Other possibilities include sturgeon fishing, which opens Jan.1 from the mouth of the Columbia River to McNary Dam, and hunting for ducks and geese during seasons that run through Jan. 30 in most areas of the state.


    But winter weather is an important consideration wherever you go. Ice fishing can be a dicey proposition in most parts of the state and heavy rains can render a river “unfishable” – even dangerous – virtually overnight.


    “Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter,” said Mike Cenci, deputy enforcement chief for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before you head out.”


    And, of course, wear warm, waterproof clothes. “We don’t get a lot of T-shirt weather in January,” Cenci said.



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  • Third cycle of SR 520 pontoons complete in Aberdeen

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – Another six State Route 520 bridge pontoons floated out of the Aberdeen casting basin today, marking completion of the third of six total pontoon cycles to be built in Grays Harbor. 

    “With the third cycle complete, we’re halfway done in Aberdeen,” said Julie Meredith, SR 520 program director for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We’ve now finished 38 of 77 pontoons needed for a new SR 520 floating bridge that will serve the region for 75 years or more.” 

    The third pontoon construction cycle included four longitudinal pontoons and two supplemental stability pontoons. The 360-foot-long longitudinal pontoons will help form the backbone of the new bridge, while the supplemental pontoons provide additional stability and flotation. 

    Each longitudinal pontoon in this cycle includes transverse post-tensioning, a concrete strengthening technique endorsed earlier this year by a pontoon expert review panel. WSDOT managers, who conducted preliminary examinations in the casting basin, report the pontoons are performing as expected. The pontoons show no signs of the spalling that occurred in the first pontoons built last year, and end-wall cracking appears limited to predicted and acceptable levels. 

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  • Grays Harbor College named one of Washington’s 27 most military friendly

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – On the heels of its ranking as top community college in Washington state last month, Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen has again made a national list.
    Twenty-seven Washington community and technical colleges are among the top military friendly schools in the nation according to Victory Media, a media entity for military personnel that are transitioning to civilian life.

    The 2014 Military Friendly Schools list released this week honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that do the most to ensure the success of military service members, veterans, and spouses. Grays Harbor College offers many programs and support staff to help local military students be successful.

    Victory Media compiled the list through research and data-driven analysis of surveys from more than 10,000 federal Department of Veterans Affairs-approved schools nationwide, along with a survey of more than 4,000 student veterans. The results were independently audited by national accounting firm Ernst & Young. Washington’s community and technical colleges were among 1,818 schools nationwide to make the list.

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  • Macklemore praises Lady Washington from Lake Washington

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – Hip-hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, one of the hottest pop music acts of 2013, have released a YouTube public service announcement in support of the tall ship Lady Washington, which appeared in their latest music video, “Can’t Hold Us.” The video praises the Aberdeen, Wash.-based vessel for its education programs for young people and features outtakes from “Can’t Hold Us.” In the PSA, the Seattle-based Macklemore asks viewers to support Lady Washington with an online donation.

    The PSA is available athttp://www.youtube.com/user/RyanLewisProductions. The Lady Washington donation page is athttps://donate.towercare.com/ghhsa.

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  • Strong Runs Projected at WDFW Meeting

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Fishing prospects look bright this year for chinook in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River, according to preseason salmon forecasts released today at a public meeting in Olympia.

    Opportunities for anglers also look good in Puget Sound, where coho and pink salmon runs are expected to be strong this year. 

    Forecasts for chinook, coho, sockeye, pink and chum salmon mark the starting point for developing 2011 salmon-fishing seasons in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas. The forecasts were developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes.

    Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings over the next few weeks to discuss potential fishing opportunities before finalizing seasons in mid-April.

    A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/ .

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    The Washington Transportation Department expects construction to start as soon as next month in Aberdeen on the facility that will build pontoons for the new Highway 520 floating bridge at Seattle.

    The department says the Aberdeen site won federal approval this week. Kiewit-General Joint Venture still needs other permits to start construction on the pontoons, each up to 360 feet long.

    The pontoons will support the new six-lane bridge to replace the existing Lake Washington bridge, built in 1963.

    Tolling starts on the bridge this year to help pay for construction. The new bridge is scheduled to open by the end of 2014.

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