Special Reports

Port may earn $1 million from bridge project

The second Narrows bridge construction project could provide a million-dollar windfall for the Port of Tacoma.

Based in large part on how much time is consumed on various aspects of the project, the port could stand to earn as much as $1 million in wharfage, dockage and land rentals.

The exact financial impact isn't yet known.

"It's kind of a fluid thing," said port spokesman Mike Wasem. "We'll know better as time goes on."

The first of the new bridge's two caissons - hollow steel and concrete structures that form the foundations for the bridge's 510-foot towers - was nudged up against a Terminal 7 pier Tuesday.

The caisson was built at Seattle's Todd Pacific Shipyard and launched Monday.

A second will join the first in about a month.

It will take about three months to add steel and concrete to each caisson, which then will be towed to the bridge site and slowly sunk as more steel and concrete are added.

The port could collect as much as $500,000 for that part of the $849 million bridge project alone, depending on the amount of crane time that is used.

Another $200,000 could be added to that, depending on how much steel is imported through the port.

Tacoma Narrows Constructors also will use between 5 and 8 acres of port land adjacent to Hylebos Waterway to build other bridge components.

The land rents for $1,500 per acre per month, and will be used for as much as two years, Wasem said, a potential total of nearly $300,000.

The port also will be paid dockage fees for barges, which will deliver materials for the construction projects.

The two caissons aren't expected to disturb container ships that call at the Sitcum Waterway every week for Maersk Lines, CSX Lines and "K" Line.

The Sitcum, where Terminal 7 is located, is the port's smallest and most easily congested waterway.

The port won't gain revenue from handling the hundreds of miles of support wire that will become the bridge's support cables, nor the decking, which will be fabricated in Korea and shipped here.

The ships carrying both are expected to anchor under the new bridge and transfer the cargo directly to the bridge.

Revenues from port operations of the contractor and subcontractors, however, could inflate the port's normal $72.4 million budget for 2003.

"We never planned on that," said Jeff Smith, the port's senior director of finance and administration.

"But we're certainly excited about the project."

Al Gibbs: 253-597-8650