The Port of Everett plans to modernize the south terminal wharf to allow for larger ships and heavier cargo. This artist’s rendering shows the project, including two new 100-foot cranes to the far left. (Port of Everett)

The Port of Everett plans to modernize the south terminal wharf to allow for larger ships and heavier cargo. This artist’s rendering shows the project, including two new 100-foot cranes to the far left. (Port of Everett)

$36M project to allow bigger ships, heavier cargo at port

Modernizing the south terminal wharf in Everett is called key to helping Boeing’s 777X program.

EVERETT — The Port of Everett plans to spend $36 million rebuilding the south terminal wharf to accommodate bigger ships with larger, heavier cargo.

It’s one of the biggest projects ever for the port and will enable it to handle shipments for Boeing’s 777X program. Right now, the port is only able to accommodate ships 650-feet in length at its wharves. The improvements will allow for 950-foot ships.

“This is a bold and momentous step toward the goal that the port commission set forward nearly two years ago to modernize its seaport to support the industry shipping trends,” said Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz in a statement.

The project will add two 100-foot cranes — about twice the size of the cranes currently at the waterfront. They will be painted smoke blue.

Maritime construction is booming and bids could come in higher, or even lower. The port sought peer reviews on the cost of the project to try to determine the likely cost, said Lisa Lefeber, the port’s spokeswoman.

The port has set aside $14 million for the project and is receiving $11.8 million in grants and $10.2 million in federal and state loans to do the work.

The south terminal wharf was built in the 1970s for log operations and is made of wooden pilings with an asphalt covering. The dock can only accommodate 500 pounds per square foot. Modern cargo operations require a minimum of 1,000 pounds per square feet.

A contractor will tear down a warehouse on the wharf, increase dock strength by adding steel pilings and add utilities, storm drainage and a wetlands. The port also needs to add the two, 100-foot gauge rail-mounted container cranes.

The port had previously strengthened 140 feet of the 700-foot dock. This project will strengthen the rest.

The port will seek bids in November. Construction is anticipated to begin in April and last through December 2019.

The port has been reaching out to neighbors about the cranes, Lefeber said, including their color. While the cranes are taller, they’re less bulky than the current cranes. The south wharf terminal is also farthest from surrounding neighborhoods, she said.

The cranes will be able to handle regular container boxes as well as larger-than-normal container boxes, Lefeber said. That will accommodate parts for the new 777X. Boeing started production on the new wide-bodied jet this week and expects to begin test flights in 2019 and deliveries in 2020.

As far as dollars and complexity go, this is one of the bigger projects ever undertaken by the port. One of the more recent large projects, the Mount Baker Terminal — a shipping facility in south Everett built in 2005 — cost $30 million.

Jim Davis:; 425-339-3097; @HBJnews.

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