Ceremony marks start of new Hwy. 520 pontoon construction

Ceremony marks start of new Hwy. 520 pontoon construction
ABERDEEN, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire and Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond keynoted a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday at the site where huge pontoons will be built for Seattle's new Highway 520 floating bridge.

The two joined local dignitaries in turning the first ceremonial shovelfuls of earth at the former Aberdeen Log Yard.

DOT spokesman Jeff Switzer said heavy equipment will move in as soon as next week to begin preparing the site for construction.

When the site is complete, it is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Grays Harbor County.

The first order of work at the 55-acre site will be to build a casting basin that will allow workers to construct 33 concrete pontoons for the Highway 520 floating bridge.

The pontoons will be available for emergency replacement of the floating bridge or stored until needed to form the backbone of a new Highway 520 floating bridge scheduled to open by the end of 2014.

When the pontoons are ready, they will be floated up the coast, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into Puget Sound before passing through the locks into Lake Washington.

The pontoons are designed to withstand a 1,000-year earthquake or a 92-mph windstorm.