DIGGING BEGINS ON 520 CASTING BASIN

Construction crews have started excavating more than a quarter-million cubic yards of dirt for a casting basin here – a crucial step for building concrete pontoons to replace the aging and vulnerable State Route 520 floating bridge in the Seattle area.

Crews will spend the next few months digging down 30 feet to allow construction of the 33 concrete pontoons that will eventually be towed to Lake Washington in Seattle. The Washington State () hired Kiewit-General to build the $367 million project, which includes building the basin and pontoons.

Crews began pile driving and site draining in February. They will use an excavator with an 8-yard bucket – large enough to fill a dump truck in one scoop. A smaller excavator and a grader will also be used to dig out and smooth the 4-acre basin and ensure a consistent depth. The completed casting basin will measure 900 feet long and 200 feet wide.

About 60 percent of the dirt removed will be stockpiled onsite, Ziegler said. Trucks will haul the rest to an approved disposal site in Grays Harbor County. Since work started, truck traffic in Aberdeen has increased on US 101 and other main roads near the construction site.

“We’re continuing to drive the steel piles that will make up the casting basin’s foundation, and excavating as we go,” Ziegler said. “As this work is being done, we’ll also start pouring concrete and building the casting basin to form the heart of the facility.”

The entire casting facility is scheduled for completion by the end of the year; however, crews will begin producing interior concrete walls for the first of six pontoon cycles in areas near the casting basin as early as July. The first cycle is scheduled to be complete in 2012. The final pontoons are scheduled to be completed by mid-2014.

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