EVERETT — The only twinkling in the night sky above the Port of Everett South Terminal will continue to be soaring planes and distant stars.
Port of Everett commissioners, eager for the cargo cranes to start working, last week voted unanimously to not repaint and add flashing lights to the towering 214-foot machines.
“Time is of the essence considering the operation of those cranes,” Port Commissioner Tom Stiger said at the Feb. 11 commission meeting. “They’re going to be needed in order to accommodate the heavier Boeing containers, the ships are going to be larger.”
In late January, the port sought public comment on whether to repaint the cranes, which are green on the base and carry orange and white diagonal stripes above 200 feet, blue and add flashing lights that would run all day and night, every day. Both options satisfied Federal Aviation Administration requirements because the cranes are over a 200-foot threshold and near flight paths for Naval Station Everett and Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
Two lights operated on a crane for a week between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 as a test. The port sent about 1,500 mailers asking for feedback from people who live along the Everett and Mukilteo waterfront with views of the South Terminal.
During the day, white lights flashed 40 times per minute at 20,000 candela, a measurement of light people see. At night, red lights flashed 40 times per minute at 2,000 candela. A standard light bulb has an intensity of 135 candela.
As of Feb. 7, just over 100 comments wanted the cranes to stay the same, and 16 supported the new color and lights, according to meeting minutes. People as far away as Hat and Whidbey islands sent feedback.
The estimated cost of installing lights and painting the cranes was $3 million. It also would have added time for the work and for FAA-required studies before the cranes could be loaded onto the South Terminal dock and begin working.
There’s no cost incurred for keeping them as they are, though the port wants to add its name in place of the white “Evergreen” name on them now.
Eventually, the cranes will be a bit farther out on the water at the South Terminal, which is the port’s largest container dock and can host larger ships and heavier cargo, including parts for the Boeing 777X.
“We are working on a schedule, shooting for the fall of 2020 to meet the Boeing 777X production schedule,” Port CEO Lisa Lefeber said at the port meeting. “The inability for us to do that would have big economic impacts to the port.”
The machines, purchased for $1 from EverPort Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, arrived in June after a 1,400-mile ocean barge trip from Los Angeles. Barging them to Everett’s waterfront cost more than $5 million.
They are taller than the tallest building in Snohomish County and can lift up to 50 long tons (each long ton is 2,240 pounds), ideal for those massive jetliner components.
The port estimates it supports 34,000 jobs through its seaport operations, and would gain another 2,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs with the taller cranes.
Two smaller cranes at the Pacific Terminal are painted in “smoke blue” to better blend in with the sky and water hues. They have a 40-long-ton capacity and stand about 197 feet tall.