Seattle workers might remember hearing blasts off Elliott Bay a few years ago. That was Hart Crowser and the Port of Seattle doing “rapid load testing” at Terminal 5 to collect geotechnical engineering information needed to design an upgrade to the dock structure. By using controlled explosions in a carefully constructed structure, engineers tested dock piles up to 1,600 tons. This load is equivalent to the weight of 800 full sized pickup trucks. This was the first use of this innovative testing method for a port structure in the Pacific Northwest and resulted in significant project cost savings.
Although dock upgrade construction is already underway, the in-water work that takes advantage of the test results starts August 15. Reconfiguring and modernizing the terminal will allow the Port of Seattle to accommodate larger container ships, each longer than two Space Needles put end to end. Having this capability will keep container shipping business coming to the port and maintain Seattle’s working waterfront. The start date is particularly important because in-water work is only allowed during the “fish window” from August 15 to February 15 each year to protect migrating salmon.
Hart Crowser is an employee-owned engineering, science, and consulting firm headquartered in Seattle, with nine offices in Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska. The firm specializes in geotechnical engineering, environmental science and engineering, stormwater services, and disaster resilience.