The State Route 99 tunnel on Seattle’s waterfront that’s scheduled to open in 2015 will get some of its backbone from 1,450 concrete rings fabricated at a newly expanded plant in Pierce County.
The project for the plant operated by FPS EnCon Precast will create more than 130 jobs – a positive jolt for the local economy that was hailed by dozens of community and business leaders who toured the facility May 15 to a collaboration of industry and government support.
Building the approximately two-mile tunnel, which will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct as a major traffic corridor, “requires expertise and resources from around the world, and a key portion of that work is coming together in Frederickson,” said County Executive Pat McCarthy.
FPS, an affiliate of global civil construction company Dragados SA, signed an agreement with EnCon Washington LLC to form FPS Encon Precast. Under their joint venture, the tunnel lining will be cured at the Frederickson plant, which was expanded in recent months to accommodate the work.
McCarthy and FPS officials cited the cooperation between private and public interests “in getting this job-creating project moving forward.” .
“This facility is the result of extraordinary collaboration among business and government leaders,” said Steve Harding, business development manager at Dragados USA. “We’re grateful to Pierce County’s economic development and planning staffs for expediting our permit review (for the plant expansion) so we can remain on time and on budget.”
Each tunnel ring will consist of 10 concrete segments. When connected, the segments – each weighing about 37,500 pounds – will create a ring with an outside diameter of 56 feet. The rings will encase the double-deck roadway and provide resistance against external pressure.
The work in Frederickson has an international flavor. The molds for the sections and equipment for pouring the concrete into the molds came from France and China. Spain-based Dragados is the premier builder of tunnels in the world. The batch plant was purchased from Germany-based Wiggert and Co.
Western Trailer, which is based in Idaho and has an office in Tacoma, is building special trailers to transport the ring segments from Frederickson to Seattle.
Segment production began in March and is expected to take 14 months to finish.
Before the tunnel ring project, the 20-acre EnCon plant produced noise walls and retaining walls for highway projects for the state Department of Transportation, as well as commercial wall panels and deck panel products.