Port of Kalama Approves $900,000
by Marissa Luck
KALAMA -- Only one contractor bid on a large Port of Kalama dredging project, but the port seems to have found a decent price for the work anyway.
Port commissioners Wednesday approved an $894,000 contract with Vancouver-based HME Construction Inc. to dredge 50,000 yards of sand out of the ship mooring area at the TEMCO Grain Terminal along the Columbia River.
"We were disappointed we didn't have more competition," Eric Yakovich, the port's business development manager, told the commissioners.
The port explored re-bidding the job and contracting with the Port of Portland, which owns a dredge. But those options did not work out, Yakovich said.
The project will cost $10.60 per cubic yard of sand removed, plus mobilization costs. The price-per-yard is within the range of previous dredging projects at the port last year, which cost $8.95 and $15.70 per cubic yard, according to the port. The port staff did not develop a cost estimate for the TEMCO dredging project.
The lack of contractor interest in the project may be due to two factors tying up dredging contractors. One, it's a busy time of year for dredging because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers limits the time work can occur to avoid affecting endangered salmon runs, said Kristin Meira, executive director of Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. Two, low water conditions make it an ideal time to dredge.
"Because of the (low) water conditions, there is a lot of work going on right now," Yakovich told commissioners.
As part of the port's lease agreement with TEMCO, the port has to pay for up to $2.3 million of maintenance dredging until 2018. Any cost beyond that will be reimbursed by the grain company.
Port Executive Director Mark Wilson said the dredging costs should be contrasted with revenue TEMCO generates for the port, which totaled $2 million through July this year alone.
In the future, Yakovich proposed the port consult with contractors about how to attract more bids. Purchasing a dredge is another possible, but expensive, option.
"There are a few examples where ports have been successful buying, operating and maintaining their own dredging equipment in the Pacific Northwest," said John Dawson, an Edmonds, Wash., based contracting engineer for the Port of Kalama. He added though that it's "very dependent upon the individual port's scenario."
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