A plan to build another structure around the existing 258 feet of pilings in the Point Hudson jetty breakwater would decrease the size of the marina opening by 16 inches and increase its overall footprint. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

A plan to build another structure around the existing 258 feet of pilings in the Point Hudson jetty breakwater would decrease the size of the marina opening by 16 inches and increase its overall footprint. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Point Hudson jetty project gets forward momentum

Port commissioners agree to hire engineering firm

PORT TOWNSEND — The Point Hudson south jetty replacement/rehabilitation project continues its forward momentum as the three Port of Port Townsend commissioners agreed this week to hire engineering firm Mott MacDonald to create final engineering designs and prepare bid documents.

Earlier this year, port staff addressed the situation by rethinking ways to tackle the aging jetty. It was constructed in 1934 and has had very little maintenance over its lifespan.

Last May, after months of discussion and preliminary work, port commissioners decided to reject all bids and suspend the project, citing lack of funds and the port’s overall financial condition.

The low bidder was American Construction Co. of Tacoma in the amount of $3.991 million. The design was for a steel combi-wall, a choice that proved too costly, aesthetically disappointing and not popular among the marine trades community and the public.

During last week’s minus tides, damage to the structure was clearly visible and demonstrated the need for immediate repairs.

Most of the wooden pilings have deterioration, some with holes created by wave action and sea creatures that go all the way through the timbers.

Walers — cross beams that are meant to provide support and separation between each piling — have been damaged or have disappeared all together.

The basalt rocks that create the heart of the breakwater no longer serve their original purpose and have slid into the marina entrance, leaving the top third of the pilings holding air.

Due to the urgency of the situation, port commissioners moved to get a revised design for the south jetty completed.

“We sought to pursue a design-build contracting authorization through the Department of Enterprise Services,” Port Deputy Director Eric Toews said Wednesday. “We submitted an application and went before the project review committee of the capital projects review board. We were not successful in obtaining the authorization to use the design/build method of contracting.”

Although the application was strong and port officials were told to reapply during a subsequent review cycle, the port chose not to wait and to move forward as rapidly as possible with a revised design to get the jetty completed.

“What is being proposed is a steel batter-pile design on 6-foot centers, with stainless steel mesh lagging between the piles,” Toews explained. “An envelope will be constructed around the existing structure, then we’ll pull the existing creosote treated timbers that make up the fabric of the existing jetty, allowing the basalt quarry spalls to settle into the new framework. We’ll add granite quarry spalls on top of that and then tie the pile tops together with a combination of steel cable ties and steel bracing that would allow for the future reinstallation of the walkway above the jetty.”

The plan will address all of the jetty’s 258 feet of length — both the landward and seaward legs. The new design will cause the entrance to the marina to be narrowed by about 16 inches.

After a bid process, Mott McDonald was selected to perform the first phase of work, which includes marine engineering services. This initial phase involves a review of existing information, development of applicable design parameters, identification of the preferred conceptual design alternative and preparation of preliminary design drawings to facilitate permit review.

The proposed budget for the scope of this work is $154,400 to get the project bid-ready. The port was successful in obtaining a Public Infrastructure Grant (PIF) from Jefferson County for $150,000 to help with the costs of the additional design and engineering work.

Towes said the BIG Tier II grant of over $1 million that the port received for the original project was extended to June 30, 2021. The Recreation and Conservation Office has been working on the port’s behalf with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to negotiate an amendment to the scope to reflect a modified design rather than the original vision of the steel combi-wall design.

The project also needs an approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service with respect to a mitigation plan. Toews said staff is not sure when that review process may take place.

“The jetty is no longer working,” Toews said. “Point Hudson is a center of economic and community activity for Port Townsend and the county as a whole. Think of all the amazing events that draw people from far and wide and are hosted at Point Hudson. The breakwater is a key piece of the basic infrastructure that allows all that good stuff to happen, everything from the businesses at the east end of the historic district, to those at Point Hudson itself, to the Wooden Boat Festival. It’s iconic.

“We are doing everything we can to try to find a way to allow all of these good things to persist into the future. “

Conceptual drawings will be available next week on the port’s website at www.portofpt.com.

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Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].

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