Alaska is typically the country’s leading state every year for volume and value of fishery landings, and for more than 19 years, Dutch Harbor’s port has had the highest volume of commercial seafood landed in the country. Bringing in a record-breaking 787 million pounds of seafood, as Dutch Harbor did in 2015, means that the city has a vested interest in ensuring its ports and facilities can accommodate fishing vessels as well as the increased freight traffic coming from the Bering Sea.
“Dutch Harbor is a good community to work in,” said Jason Davis, president of Turnagain Marine Construction, which has undertaken a couple major projects recently in Unalaska. “They’ve got a lot of commitment to expanding their infrastructure and offering good services to the fishing community and the community at large.”
Since 2015, Turnagain Marine Construction has been a go-to contractor for dock improvements for the city of Unalaska, working on projects such as putting in new sea floats and expanding light cargo docks. This year, Turnagain has been working on a $34 million replacement of Unalaska Marine Center dock positions III and IV.
Formerly, position III was a wooden structure built in the 1960s; position IV was an older, lighter duty concrete pile-supported dock. Neither structure was capable of handling modern vessel traffic — specifically, neither dock was long enough to provide berthing to newer, 700- to 900-foot ships.
Turnagain was awarded this best value project, which is to be completed in October 2018. To date, the company has completed demolition and begun installing the open cell sheet pile, while quarrying rock and bringing fill onto the site. Off-site, in Washington state, fabricated steel items such as fender panels are being built and will be shipped north in October. Turnagain is on schedule to have all the structural components installed by February 2018.
The aggressive schedule of this project has been a significant challenge.
“We have an operating dock, so by A season next February, when they’re bringing in pollock, we need things to be to a certain point so we can accommodate that vessel traffic,” said Robert Lund, Dutch Harbor city engineer. “Any delays to the dock or any lack of use is a loss of revenue to the city, so we definitely have a vested interest in working together with Turnagain so everyone comes out on top.”
“We’ve worked with the city to accelerate some of the demo sequencing so we could get access to the work quicker,” Davis added. “That’s allowed us to have a schedule that’s attainable.”
In looking for ways to expedite the work, Davis proposed an alternate system for the dock’s pile anchor for the crane rail tie-downs that, ultimately, saved the city more than $1.5 million and helped the city’s engineers reduce the number of piles needed while still maintaining functionality.
“That means in the future, if a company brought a crane onto that location, they wouldn’t have to modify the crane very much to use the systems so the tie-downs would work,” Lund said.
As of July, Turnagain’s change orders were negative $300,000 because the company had found cost savings on several aspects of the project.
“They’re happy with that,” Davis said of his client.
Turnagain’s other recent project in Dutch Harbor posed a different kind of challenge from the beginning: Client Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor LLC had a set value it was willing to spend on the expansion of an existing facility’s berthing line to the southwest. Turnagain worked with the client to design the most functional heavy-duty freight dock it could to achieve the owner’s budget constraints, guaranteeing no change orders and taking all the risk of subsurface conditions, design and construction. Turnagain managed to complete the project in only eight months.
“We designed, procured the materials and built in that amount of time, and the contract value didn’t change,” Davis said.
The pre-cast concrete deck on steel piles is an efficient, low-maintenance design that allows Kloosterboer to operate high-capacity telehandlers for moving freight.
Once again, Turnagain had to maintain operations without affecting Kloosterboer’s commercial seafood processing.
A second obstacle came when the construction company ran into areas of shallow bedrock, which required it to drill in the piles and use a post-tension anchor to hold them down.
“It was something we didn’t anticipate,” Davis said. “But since that was our risk, we completed the task without a change order. That project was very successful in that we were really efficient and able to get it done on time.”
The heavy-duty freight dock for Kloosterboer was completed this summer; project cost was about $5 million.