Woodland Industries, contracted by Pierce County, demolish the old LIC wharf on Jan. 31. Photo by Don Tjossem, Special to the KP News

Negotiations are currently under way between Pierce County and the Longbranch Improvement Club concerning the extra cost for demolition of the wharf. The demolition work began Jan. 31 and will be completed by Feb. 15 in time for the fish window that mandates all construction in the water stop to allow for spawning.

The county inspected the pilings of the LIC wharf early in 2010 and found them to be deteriorating, and when another inspection was completed in September the county made the decision to close the wharf.

At that time, the county estimated the cost of demolition to be about $60,000 and agreed to pay the cost. However when the job went out for bids the cost was more than expected.

“We had five bidders and Woodland Industries came in lowest at $82,975,” said Brian Stacy, an engineer with Pierce County Public Works and Utilities. “We ended up with five viable bidders and bids went up to $160,000. It just costs more than we anticipated. In a sensitive environmental area like that it’s hard to predict.”

A preconstruction conference was held Jan. 28, and president of Woodland Industries, Lee Rogers, said there was speculation as to whether the company had the experience necessary to finish the job in time. The demolition began the morning of Jan. 31 and was completed the same day, he said.

Most of the old wharf will be recycled, but the creosote soaked pilings will be disposed of at an approved discharge location. Woodland Industries used a large barge and excavators to remove the old wharf quickly, and right behind them will be Marine Floats, the company the LIC contracted to install the new wharf.

Permits for such a project normally take a long time to pass through the Corps of Engineers, said Stan Flemming, Pierce County councilman.

Geoff Baillie, president of the LIC said the board contacted Norm Dicks (D) to see if he could help speed the permits along so the project could be completed prior to the fish window.

Marine Floats put the environmental impact study together and submitted the applications, said Kraig Shaner, a bridge engineer with the county who helped develop plans for the demolition of the old structure.

While the old structure was made of wood, the new one will be all steel construction, Shaner said.

“On a project like this it’s typically a good impact because the existing structure is bigger than the one they’re putting in, and there won’t be a concern with shading.”

The old wharf was made of wood that did not allow sunlight to shine through, and the new structure will be grated open mesh steel, he said.

The new structure will be as long as the old, 150 feet, but the width will be a consistent 6 feet, instead of a meandering width that varied between 5 and 10 feet.

“It’s built on the footprint of a previous structure, so every other span is wider and narrower,” Shaner said of the old wharf. “We are doing everything we can from our end to make this happen quickly and hopefully go off without a hitch.”

Weather conditions could play a role in the progress, but Shaner said as long as the winds are not heavy work should stay on schedule.

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