Port of Port Angeles studies pier for barge use

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Divers will examine pilings that support the Port of Port Angeles’ Terminal 5 dock Thursday as the port considers whether to turn the largely unused structure into a barge pier.

“Building waterfront transportation capacity is always a good thing,” Ken O’Hollaren, the port’s interim executive director, told a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience of 71 at the Red Lion Hotel.

In a later interview, O’Hollaren said the 350-foot dock is “very infrequently” used for wood-chip loading.

This week’s dive is part of an overall study to determine the dock’s condition and will include cost estimates for making it usable for barges.

Such a pier could be suitable for shipping and accepting forestry products for example, or any product that’s suitable for transport by barge, O’Hollaren said.

The port has budgeted $25,000 this year to study the condition of the dock, Chris Hartman, director of engineering, said in a later interview.

The dock examination, which began in mid-February, should be completed in coming weeks with a report available for public and board review by the end of March.

The kinds of Terminal 5 improvements that may be required are not contained in the 2014 budget or in the port’s five-year plan.

“It very well could be if the condition assessment comes back with a reasonable cost to rehabilitate,” Hartman said.

“We’ve done considerable analysis on a barging facility before,” he said, identifying feasibility studies completed in 1988 and 1992 and updated in 2000.

“Typically, there’s not enough volume to decide on a barge dock here,” Hartman said.

“Traditionally, there’s not enough volume to warrant the infrastructure.”

An above-water inspection showed the dock has promise, Hartman said.

The pile caps, stringers and superstructure were in considerably better condition than anticipated, he said.

Had the pile caps been decrepit, it would have been difficult to repair them, Hartman added.

O’Hollaren and port commissioners’ President Jim Hallett were featured speakers at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Hallett noted that O’Hollaren, the board’s choice to be the permanent executive director, will give a presentation at 9 a.m. today at a special commissioners’ meeting in the meeting room of the port administrative building, 338 W. First St., Port Angeles.

Refreshments will be served at what board Vice President John Calhoun has called a “meet-and-greet” for the public and O’Hollaren.

O’Hollaren took over on an interim basis for former Executive Director Jeff Robb, who resigned June 24 citing health issues.

Robb was immediately hired at the same $138,000 annual salary to become the port’s environmental affairs director.

“Last year, there were a few changes that happened at the port,” Hallett said.

“[O’Hollaren] came when there was, shall we say, less than happy ‘Kumbaya’ going on at the port.

“He stilled the waters.”

Hallett said the commissioners were lucky to be in a position to, in effect, try out a candidate for such a long period of time

He praised O’Hollaren’s experience, which includes 24 years as Port of Longview executive director before retiring in December 2012.

‘Mr. Port’

“Sometimes, people call him Mr. Port,” Hallett said.

“We think we’re in a very strong position.”

A contract with O’Hollaren for $145,000 a year could be signed at the commissioners’ regular meeting March 12, Hallett said.

If hired by the Port of Port Angeles, O’Hollaren’s state retirement benefits will be suspended and would restart when he separates again from public employment.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 03. 2014 6:37PM
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