EVERETT — Costly new coats of paint and high-powered aerial safety lights could be in the near future for the Port of Everett’s two new behemoth cranes.
Or the machines could stay as they are: green bases with white tops and orange hash marks with red obstruction lights.
The port district sought public comment the past week. The options: leave them be, or paint them blue to blend in with the sea and sky but add three lights each. A public meeting Tuesday let commissioners hear from residents about which visual aesthetic they prefer.
“We essentially need to know if we’re going to keep them as is, or paint them blue,” said Catherine Soper, public affairs manager for the Port of Everett.
Federal Aviation Administration requirements allow for either choice. If the port wants to change the cranes’ appearance, marking and lighting change studies are required, FAA spokesperson Allen Kenitzer said.
At 215 feet, the cranes are taller than Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, the tallest building in Snohomish County. They are less than half a nautical mile away from the hospital’s heliport, and the FAA considers airspace over 200 feet above ground level to be navigable. That’s why man-made structures higher than 200 feet are evaluated, catalogued and depicted on aeronautical charts, Kenitzer said.
A new color and lights would cost an estimated $3 million and add time before the cranes can be loaded onto the South Terminal dock and start working.
The port mailed about 1,500 flyers to homes along its waterfront, from Mukilteo to 13th Street in Everett, Soper said. There also was a Facebook post with paid targeting to a larger geographic area that included parts of Hat and Whidbey islands.
“Leadership wasn’t comfortable making a decision without seeking people’s opinion,” Soper said.
As of Monday morning, the port received 54 comments about the cranes’ safety markings.
Soper said 85% favor keeping them green with the striping, and 15% want the machines painted and lights added.
Someone shopping for a light bulb might consider its watts (a unit of power) and lumens (the brightness). The FAA-required lights, 16 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep, are measured in candela — the light people see, coming from a source they see, directly into their eyes.
One crane had two of these lights during the recent test.
In the day, white lights flashed 40 times per minute at 20,000 candela.
At night, red lights flashed 40 times per minute at 2,000 candela.
If installed, each crane’s three lights would be programmed to switch during the dark hours and run 24 hours every day.
“We’ve already heard as far as Whidbey Island, as far as comment,” Soper said, adding that Hat Island residents also contacted the port about the lights.
Once in place, the cranes will be a bit farther out on the water, so the test didn’t imitate the precise position of the cranes and possible lighting.
The cranes arrived in June after a 1,400-mile ocean barge trip from Los Angeles. They cost $1 each from EverPort Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, but barging them to Everett’s waterfront cost more than $5 million.
When the port got the towering titans, it did not know the coloring was required by the FAA because of their height and proximity to flight zones for Naval Station Everett and Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
Since then, the cranes idled while their drive systems were retrofitted and the wharf was strengthened, Soper said.
The South Terminal is the port’s largest container dock, which can host larger ships and heavier cargo, including parts of the Boeing 777X.
The new cranes can lift up to 50 long tons (each long ton is 2,240 pounds), ideal for those massive jetliner components.
Two cranes at the Pacific Terminal have a 40-long-ton capacity and are about 197 feet tall.
There were no plans to decorate any of the cranes seasonally, like some of the cranes in Seattle.
The Port of Everett is expected to decide on the cranes’ paint during the commissioners’ meeting Feb. 11.