Permit holds up Navy pier project at Ediz Hook

PORT ANGELES — The cost and timeline for the Navy’s $25.6 million pier and uplands construction project at Ediz Hook is being re-evaluated while the Navy awaits permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to remove thousands of cubic yards of erosion controlling rock, a Navy spokeswoman said last week.

Corps spokeswoman Patricia Graesser said the agency would notify the Navy on Monday of the Corps’ decision.

The 425-foot pier is a key component of a $25.6 million Transit Protection System for Navy submarine transportation escort vessels that is being built at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles a half-mile east of the entrance gate.

The submarines are based at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton.

The escort vessels are needed for security purposes, and the vessels’ crews need the rest stop that would be provided by the Ediz Hook facility while they use submarines for exercises, according to Navy officials.

The Corps permits would allow removal of more than 7,000 cubic yards of jetty material for the pier in an area that includes the federally constructed Ediz Hook Beach Erosion Control Project, according to the Corps’ Jan. 5 public notice of its review.

The notice notified the public that the Corps was evaluating the Navy’s alteration of the erosion control project and set Jan. 11 as the cutoff date for public comment.

“USACE has determined that the Navy’s proposed project would entail an alteration to a harbor work built by the United States, and this requires approval under Section 408,” the notice said.

Section 408 is part of the U.S. Code that is related to the federal Rivers and Harbors Act, Graesser said.

“This proposed alteration triggers a requirement … that the Corps review the proposed alteration to ensure it is not injurious to the public interest and doesn’t impair the usefulness of the project,” she said.

Construction of the Navy dock was scheduled to begin with pile-driving in December but has yet to commence until the permits are approved, Navy spokeswoman Silvia Klatman said.

“The Navy anticipates receiving the permits on Jan. 23,” she said in an email.

“Completion of the pier portion of the project will be delayed.

“The Navy is currently assessing the cost and time impact to the project.”

The project includes a fuel storage facility, an armory and an Alert Forces Facility.

The Alert Forces Facility, which includes sleeping quarters for 20 to 30 personnel, is already under construction by Watts-Orion Joint Venture of Gig Harbor, Jeff Robison, general manager of Watts Construction of Gig Harbor, said Friday.

Watts Construction is the managing partner for the project with Orion Marine Group of Tacoma, which is building the pier.

The companies are building the Transit Protection System as Watts-Orion Joint Venture of Gig Harbor, which was awarded the contract Aug. 30.

Robison said pile-driving for the dock on the southern flank of the Hook, facing the Port Angeles shoreline and the Olympic Mountains, was supposed to begin Dec. 1.

Now, depending on the Corps’ decision, work could begin this week — but will have to end during the protective “fish window” that closes Feb. 15, restricting in-water construction until it opens again July 16.

Pile-driving would have been completed by Feb. 15, but even if it starts up again before then, it will take place this summer after the window reopens, Robison said.

“Pile-driving will have to be resumed in July for sure,” Robison said.

Robison did not yet know the impact on recreational users of Port Angeles Harbor, he said.

“We’ll have to look hard at the impact it will have to those folks,” he said.

According to bid specifications, the contract had a duration date of 18 months, an unsuccessful bidder on the project told the Peninsula Daily News on Sept. 2.

Navy spokesman Jake Chappelle said Friday that the Navy commonly awards contracts for construction projects pending regulatory permits.

“All projects of this magnitude have many hurdles to overcome, any of which can delay a project’s progress,” he said in an email.

Navy officials have said the entire project would be completed by February 2018.

The Navy’s August 2016 environmental assessment of the project determined the project would not have a significant environmental impact.

The material that would be removed is part of a jetty that extends 215 feet south of the shoreline and is covered by a concrete slab, according to the Jan. 5 public notice.

The material that would be removed consists of 4,450 cubic yards of crushed rock and 3,200 cubic yards of large rock.

The beach would be regraded on the eastern and western portions of the jetty.

A new section of armoring would consist of 58 cubic yards of material, according to the notice.

The city of Port Angeles and the Seattle office of the Corps of Engineers have maintained the Ediz Hook Beach Erosion Control Project.

City officials have endorsed the Navy’s alterations, according to the public notice.

How was it that this project was scheduled and a contract awarded with permits still needing to be approved?

All projects of this magnitude have many hurdles to overcome, any of which can delay a project’s progress, according to the Navy, saying it is common to award construction projects pending regulatory permits.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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