Work peaks on $150M Port of Vancouver project
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 | 00:00
The Port of Vancouver USA is halfway through its 10-year, $150 million freight access improvement project, and construction is set to hit its high point this summer, DJC reports.
The West Vancouver Freight Access project is designed to reduce congestion on regional rail lines. The effort, which began in 2007 and will finish by 2017, involves 21 projects, hundreds of construction workers and freight trains chugging through jobsites every day.
Local contracting companies have had to adjust some of their practices to complete WVFA jobs, and those lessons may prove valuable this summer, when the port will seek bids for millions of dollars worth of work.
Vancouver, Wash.-based Rotschy Inc. in June will wrap up two jobs at the port, including a $6.5 million project that will increase access for grain trains. But project manager Hans Schmeusser said a WVFA project’s budget does not necessarily line up with its level of complexity.
Two years ago, the company completed a job at the port that cost more than twice the amount of the grain train project, but was less challenging.
Workers in March install new rail tracks at the Port of Vancouver USA as part of the $150 million, 10-year to improve access for freight companies. (Photo courtesy of the Port of Vancouver)
Work is also complicated because each port tenant has its own safety programs, according to Mike Robertson, project manager for Colf Construction. Only one tenant requires workers to wear eye protection, for instance, and certain areas of the port are more restrictive about where people can smoke cigarettes, so contractors working on multiple projects need to be especially vigilant, Robertson said.
The Vancouver-based company has done about $4 million worth of work on multiple sites at the port.
Because of the port’s security measures, Robertson said it also can be tricky to get deliveries to the jobsite. After 9/11, the Coast Guard increased security at all U.S. ports, so in order to get into certain areas at the Port of Vancouver, people need to have a Transit Worker Identification Credential or an escort with one.
When 10 dump trucks delivering rock were delayed because of the TWIC requirements, Robertson realized it would be more efficient to have additional crew members go through the background check and certification process so they could also serve as escorts.
Much of the upcoming work at the port this year will be laying the groundwork for two major projects – an $80 million expansion planned by United Grain Corp. and a new, $300 million facility for international mining company BHP Billiton, which plans to ship fertilizer potash from a Canadian mine through the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 5.
The port in early June will request bids for an approximately $8 million job to prepare Terminal 5 for BHP Billiton. Then, in late summer, the port will seek a contractor to relocate the bulk unloading facility; that effort has a $4 million budget for 2012 and will continue to be funded next year.
Construction is also expected to kick off on one of the WVFA’s signature projects: a new connection point to the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific main lines that will provide better access to major rail hubs in Houston and Chicago. Bids for the $7 million first phase of that project are also expected to be sought this summer.
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