For more than a year, hundreds of workers have toiled away at the pontoon construction site on the banks of the Chehalis River. And yet — beyond a few cranes sticking up from the ground — everything’s been done in relative isolation to the surrounding area.
That’s all about to change on Monday. Six of the pontoons, built to help replace the 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington, will be floated out into the Harbor. Beyond the Web cameras, it’s probably the best and only time for the public to catch a glimpse of what’s been going on.
The site will remain closed to the public. So don’t try to get a glimpse that way. However, from Hospital Hill or the banks of the Chehalis River, you’ll have a good chance to see the massive pontoons.
The float-out begins between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Four of the largest pontoons will be taken to Terminal 4 in Aberdeen, where the giant roll-on/roll-off cargo ships come as cars are exported overseas. The entire area will remain closed with security at the gates. But, even driving by on the road should give you a decent glance at what’s been under construction.
The two smallest pontoons will be taken to Terminal 3 in Hoquiam at Bowerman Basin. You might be able to catch a glimpse at the viewing tower on 28th Street as the tug boats take it into Hoquiam.
And “smallest” is all relative, given that the even these supplemental stability pontoons are still huge at 98 feet by 60 feet by 28 feet. The biggest pontoons are 360 feet by 75 feet by 29 feet and 240 feet by 75 feet by 33 feet.
Everything is expected to be finished by about 11 p.m. As it turns dark, you’ll likely spot the navigational lights on the pontoons.
The plan is for the pontoons to be inspected with a special dive team to go underneath the concrete structures. Then, in the next few days, given weather conditions and the inspections, the pontoons will begin their journey north. The journey will take about a week to get to the Ballard Locks and on to Lake Washington. .
Contractor Kiewit-General says they have no plans to use a moorage site outside of Ocosta for now. That may come during the next cycle of pontoons.
The Web camera is accessible at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr520/pontoons/camera/