Portions of the public beach along the Chambers Creek Properties will temporarily close starting Monday as workers remove about half of the old pilings that line the shoreline.
The creosote-coated pilings are among the last remnants of the sand and gravel mining that occurred on the property for more than a century. Removing them will improve the look and health of the shoreline, Pierce County officials said.
“Removing these derelict pilings creates a more vibrant and healthy environment for humans and wildlife,” County Executive Pat McCarthy said. “It also improves the visual appeal of the beach, which is increasingly popular as people discover the access we provide to our wonderful shoreline.”
Workers will begin at the southern portion of the beach, including the off-leash dog area, and move north. Beach access will be restricted in the immediate area surrounding the work. The project is expected to last three weeks.
Workers will remove only the singular, unused pilings considered derelict that remain out of the water, said Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler.
The pilings are reminders of the industrial docks that were used to bring sand and gravel out to barges for transport around the Puget Sound. About 500 pilings are buried along the 2.5 miles of shoreline that borders the park.
The grant-funded project will remove between 30 and 40 tons of pilings treated with creosote, a wood preservative made from coal or wood tar, to help improve water quality, county officials said.
A vibrating hammer will help loosen the pilings as they are pulled out to reduce the risk of breaking. Pilings that break and can’t be removed using another method might be cut so they are buried no less than 2 feet below the beach surface, said Bob Vogel, project engineer for the Public Works Department.
The county received a $160,000 grant managed by the state for the project. Neptune Marine is the general contractor.
The county received $2.5 million in the state capital budget to remove the North Dock, a project that also calls for removing the remaining pilings, Ziegler said. The county must provide matching funds, the amount of which is unknown at this time, that could come from another grant.
The county is seeking funding to construct a dock designed for public viewing, day moorage and other recreational opportunities.
Birds and sea life make their homes on the pilings in the Sound, and the impact on wildlife will be considered before workers remove the old dock, Ziegler said.
Christian Hill: 253-274-7390