Melinda Munson

The breakwater at the Small Boat Harbor is breaking. Last October, pieces cracked off and fell into the ocean, forcing the closure of the structure. In January, divers found significant numbers of cracks in the pile and collected samples.

“The Small Boat Harbor breakwater continues to be a problem,” Borough Manager Brad Ryan told the assembly Feb. 2. Lab results were not promising.

“…we took some samples of the broken piles and sent them to a lab,” Ryan said. “At least the initial report is that the welds are bad. We had hoped that those welds were field splice welds, and the reason we’d hoped that is that would have meant there were fewer of them. We could have identified them, gone back and repaired them, and put this back together. It turns out, they weren’t field splice wells, they were welds done off site. And that leaves us with more welds to have to address and evaluate.”

The assembly approved a bid Feb. 10 of $36,400 to Hamilton Construction, LLC to make repairs and allow for a better look at the failing infrastructure.

Ryan described the scope of work to the assembly.

“[Hamilton Construction] picks off the end [of the wave barrier], we set it in the back of the Ore Terminal area, we get a closer look at it,” Ryan said.  “And at the same time, we will have to secure the bearing pile and the batter pile with an extra I-beam in there, or channel beam. That I think we can leave in place. And then, with any luck, what we’ll be able to do is go down and identify failing welds that are on the existing wave barrier that’s left there, and weld them back together and stand this up. And we may not even have to put the end of this back on…”

For a more technical explanation see the Hamilton Construction’s Work on Wave Barrier bid letter.

Ryan described the work as a “quick project” and said one of the most important aspects is to get information to “help direct future repairs on the labor.”

“The reason that I’m pushing this fix is so that we can step back and decide what is the right fix instead of a panic response,” he said.

According to Ryan, the breakwater was installed in 2009.

“Is the company who did these welds involved at all in any of our Ore Dock projects?” quizzed Assemblymember Deb Potter.

“…The company who constructed it certainly is one of the potential bidders,” Ryan said. “…we have the name of the yard where these were spliced. Well, we at least were told the name. They don’t appear in existence anymore, the yard where they were spliced. And that’s where we believe the problem is, with this wave barrier. So, yes and no. But yes, the company who actually constructed it was PPM [Pacific Pile & Marine]. They’re a big company, they’ve done lots of good projects. …We don’t have, right now, any reason to eliminate them from a future bid on a project here.”