Jeffco approves graving yard plan

January 5th, 2005 - 5:55am


(Port Townsend) -- Jefferson County commissioners have endorsed a proposal to move the Hood Canal floating bridge graving yard project to Port Townsend. The Port Townsend City Council has also endorsed the plan. Port Executive Director Larry Crockett says a public-private partnership between the Port of Port Townsend and Port Townsend Paper Corporation could locate the huge onshore drydock on port land, or mill land or both. State Department of Transportation officials need the drydock to manufacture replacement parts for the floating bridge. The Transportation Department abandoned the original graving yard site in Port Angeles in late December, more than a year after centuries-old Indian remains and artifacts were discovered while the site was being excavated. The state is looking for a new site; the deadline for submitting proposals is Monday.


Decision on new graving yard location due in March, Port Ludlow chamber told


Peninsula Daily News

PORT LUDLOW -- A decision on location of the next Hood Canal Bridge graving yard site won't come before March, a state Transportation Department spokesman said Wednesday.

Lloyd Brown, Department of Transportation's Olympic region communications manager, told the Port Ludlow Chamber of Commerce that a panel of national and regional construction and marine environmental experts will choose the second graving yard location.

``They will review the site proposals,'' Brown told more than 30 attending the chamber luncheon at the Harbormaster restaurant.

The proposals will include a joint offer from the Port of Port Townsend and Port Townsend Paper Corp.

Others are expected from the ports of Grays Harbor and Anacortes, and the Makah tribe at Neah Bay.

Bridge work in 2009?

Brown said it appears more likely that actual east-half bridge construction will not begin until 2009 -- but even that is an uncertainty.

``In fact, the only think I can tell you for sure -- the graving dock situation in Port Angeles has pushed us into the unknown,'' Brown said.

That situation is the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's request that the Department of Transportation heeded last month to abandon the project in Port Angeles.

The tribe made the request after thousands of ancestral remains and artifacts were uncovered in the 1,700-year-old Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen.

The panel of experts will also decide if the project will continue to be built by contractor Kiewit General Construction Co., based in Poulsbo, Brown said.

Kiewit was awarded the bridge retrofit-replacement and graving yard construction projects in 2003 in a $204 million contract.


Transportation secretary talks to business leaders on defunct graving yard

January 4th, 2005 - 5:57am


(Port Angeles) -- State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald says graving yard work in Port Angeles was halted after DOT realized the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's sense of what would be necessary to finish the project was of a scale that couldn't be put into dollars or time. MacDonald and other DOT officials were in town Monday for a series of meetings with community members. In a 70-minute briefing with the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce yesterday, McDonald called the graving yard project "the most interesting and difficult thing" he has been involved with in his life. Last month, tribal officials asked the DOT to stop the project. MacDonald says that put DOT in a very difficult position because the tribal community was asking for a finality representing the removal of all the souls buried at the site, without which they couldn't let go of some important legal leverage. MacDonald says DOT was not sure how a judge would rule on a couple of points presented by the tribe regarding the graving yard site. However, he says in the end what drove the decision to stop the project was the question of opinions, public sensibility and feelings that splits the Port Angeles community. MacDonald says he will have another interesting discussion in the coming weeks with the Legislature when they ask him how he spent 60 million on the project and eventually needed to move it. Port Angeles city leaders told MacDonald last week that they would present him many petitions from citizens wanting to keep the project in PA. He gave them a "reality check" saying there aren't enough people in Port Angeles if everyone signed twice to counter the petitions that would come in from across the country supporting the decision to save the Native American burials from desecreation. Tim Thompson is a mediator contracted by DOT to begin opening up communications with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. He says formal mediation depends on the tribe accepting his role -- adding they are now "crawling before we walk" in beginning a dialogue with the tribe about the future of the site. Thompson says the fact-finding talks are about the direction of the graving yard site, opening a dialogue with the community and the long term future of the site. MacDonald says preventative work will be done on the anchor cables on the older half of the Hood Canal Bridge to keep the structure safe. He says they hope to keep the pontoon and anchor construction on the Olympic Peninsula so the region can benefit from the project.


State continues graving yard meeting with union, public

January 4th, 2005 - 5:55am


(Port Angeles) -- Yesterday's meetings between DOT officials and people in Port Angeles continued last night at Carpenter's Hall. Transportation secretary Doug MacDonald fielded some hard questions from the audience about the fall of the graving yard in Port Angeles. MacDonald admitted to the group of laborers and others the DOT made mistakes, one of which was in not letting the public know more, once the native bones and artifacts were first uncovered at the graving yard site. Carpenter's union regional representative Roger Daino says the time has come to put aside differences. He called on residents to meet individually with members of the Lower Elwha tribe with respect and effort toward finding common ground to resolve the situation. Tim Thompson has been tabbed mediator between the state and tribe as they try to come up with a solution for the Marine Drive property that was once set to be the graving yard. Thompson plans to meet with state and tribal officials today. Earlier in last night's meeting, Secretary MacDonald said that while the graving yard is an important project for Port Angeles, the Hood Canal Bridge is more important, and should the bridge fail, the entire Peninsula would be affected.


Laborers tell DOT it can't "just leave Port Angeles behind"

Peninsula News Network


Port Angeles, WA - Confusion and concern filled the air Monday night, as State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald faced a crowd of laborers as he tried to explain his decision to scrap the PA dry dock project.

MacDonald’s appearance was the last in a long day of meetings to explain his surprise decision to shelve the multi-million dollar project because the Department of Transportation couldn’t reach agreement with the Lower Elwha Klallams on preserve tribal remains and artifacts from the site.

But unlike earlier meetings with business and government leaders, this session brought out men and women demanding answers, wanting to know why relations between the tribe and state broke down, why $60 million has been spent with nothing to show for it, and what are the chances the project can be salvaged. Many in the audience were incensed that DOT would just “walk away” from the site.

MacDonald called the situation a “complicated problem”, but also said he believes a “people-to-people program”, or discussion between the community and the tribe could help to define what will happen in the future.

Throughout the meeting, MacDonald continually appealed for the community to work together to answer questions about the future of the site. But EDC Director Jim Haguewood reminded MacDonald that DOT also has a stake because it remains a waterfront property owner. He said the state “doesn’t just get to leave town”.

MacDonald and District 3 Administrator Randy Hain said DOT hopes to have a list of new proposed sites for the dock as soon as January 10th, and could even settle on a new site by mid-February. And MacDonald told the workers, that if it is at all possible, the state would still like to see the project located on the Peninsula.

A negotiator took the first crack at trying to get the state and tribe to reach some form of agreement about the future of the Port Angeles site during a closed-door session in Port Orchard Tuesday.



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