Special Reports

Bridge builder gives up on barges off Fox Island

The Washington State Department of Transportation and the company building the new Tacoma Narrows bridge have given up on a plan to park construction barges in Hale Passage, off the north shore of Fox Island.

Tacoma Narrows Constructors had wanted to place a mooring buoy 1,500 feet off the Fox Island shore to temporarily store barges that carry construction materials to the bridge site. The site is ideal for TNC's purposes, project engineers said, because it is sheltered from wind and currents yet close to the bridge.

But waterfront property owners and members of the Fox Island Yacht Club protested, arguing that the noise, lights and tug traffic would be incompatible with a residential area. They also expressed concern that the barges might break away from their anchors and wind up on the shore.

TNC had submitted applications for permits with several regulatory agencies to allow it to place a mooring buoy at the site. On Wednesday, DOT spokeswoman Claudia Cornish said because of the community's concerns, the permit process will stop.

TNC may not try to find a replacement site for the mooring buoy, Cornish said. The construction barges were to have been used mainly during the construction of the caissons, she said, which are scheduled to be finished by December.

Getting the necessary permits probably would take longer than that, she said.

"The timing just wasn't working out," Cornish said. "It's unfortunate that the community wasn't supportive of it (the Fox Island site). It just makes building the bridge a little bit harder."

Darin Brekke, who lives on the Fox Island shoreline near the proposed site and the co-chair of a community group formed to fight the location, said he was pleased that plans have changed but remains convinced it was a bad idea to begin with.

"Construction should stay in the construction area," he said.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693