Upgrade will help port building in an earthquake

  • Jim Hills<br>Edmonds Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:47am

Port of Edmonds officials are hoping the next big earthquake waits until at least later this summer to shake the area.

That will be after a $109,000 upgrade to the port’s administration building is scheduled to be finished. The port commissioners on Monday, March 28, approved spending $15,000 of the total with Montgomery and associates. “The staff and commissioners have been discussing the seismic condition of this building for two years now,” port director Chris Keuss said on presenting the plan to the commissioners.

Port officials received two proposals for shoring up the building, which is made of cement block. The building is on a fill area and is showing signs of settling on at least one corner. One proposal, by BERGER/ABAM Engineers, called for rebuilding the foundation among other measures and came in at nearly half a million dollars, port officials said.

According to a letter to the port, Montgomery’s plan is to tie the second floor to the walls with steel brackets bolted to the underside of the floor and the outer wall. In addition, steel straps would be installed on the outside corners of the building. The work will be “creating a much stronger ‘box,’ and a safer place to work, the letter says. The actual construction work and materials is expected too cost $92,000, although an exact cost won’t be known until bids are received.

“Once complete, the building will perform better in an earthquake,” the letter says, “It should stay together long enough for people to get out. It may or may not be safe for re-entry.”

During questioning, commissioners were looking for some measurement of the plan’s impact.

“It’s going to be a better building but are you able to estimate the safety improvements?” Commissioner Bruce Faires asked.

Mike Montgomery said there is no way to give guarantees. “If there is no epicenter closer than the Nisqually quake, then I feel good. But, closer than that and shallow … the soils here are settling” he said. “Chris Keuss said ‘Could you give me a feeling for 10 years out.’ Only if things don’t change.”

Montgomery said the work won’t be too disruptive for workers. “There will be drilling and hammering on the lower level but not more than (the work) that goes on now,” he said. The lower level of the building includes some port workshop space. “The outside work noise levels will be low.”

Montgomery told the commissioners that he expected work to start by mid-June and take four to six weeks to complete.

Port officials said they opted for the Montgomery proposal because of the lower cost and that the port’s long-range plans call for ultimately moving the offices to a new building at a new location.

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