The Port of Tacoma embarked on a project to upgrade Pier 3 to initially accommodate four 100-foot-gauge container cranes that service a 24-wide container vessel, known as an ultra-large container ship (ULCS). Upgrades included structural improvements to the pier and replacement of appurtenances, as well as electrical improvements including rebuilding, relocating and upgrading a power substation to distribute 13.8kV power. The appurtenances included fenders, bollards, water service, crane tie downs and ship to shore power. The enhanced structure will support and provide power to the next generation of container cranes. The current configuration supports 64-foot-gauge container cranes and 5kV power. This structural, civil, and electrical upgrade project is an important step in a program that is readying the Port to be able to berth Ultra-Large Container Ships.
In 2011, in alignment with the Port’s Strategic Plan objective to improve Port business assets to meet market demand, the Port initiated planning to upgrade Pier 3 and realign the adjacent Pier 4 to accommodate larger container vessels and cranes. As these piers support an active container terminal it was necessary to phase these improvements to maintain terminal operations. The first phase of work was the Pier 3 Upgrade. This unique remodeling project to strengthen crane rails, widen the rail gauge, and upgrade the electrical system was constructed for approximately 15 percent of the total cost of rebuilding the entire pier. This is the first step for the port to compete in the rapidly changing, highly competitive container business.
The Engineer’s Estimate at bidding was $15.6 million. The low bid was $15 million from Orion Marine Contractors, Inc. and the actual constructed cost including change orders totaled $15.45 million. The strategy of remodeling instead of rebuilding allowed the Port to achieve a high cost benefit ratio for the project.
The Port’s goal was to complete the Pier 3 Upgrade in the fourth quarter of 2014. Substantial completion was reached on October 27, 2014. Barges used the Pier as a lay-berth on October 30, containers were stored on the facility November 4, and container ships began calling by mid-November.