Driving through downtown today I noticed a visitor in our lovely Budd Inlet. It was the tug Mary Margaret and her crane barge Skookum. Operated by a company out of Aberdeen called Quigg Bros Inc, the crew was engaged in removing the pilings that anchor one of our floating docks.
As I watched, they rigged a wire choker around the first piling and attached the end of the wire to the crane hook. Ever so slowly the crane operator raised the hook, taking up slack. As the crew members backed away to watch from relative safety, he increased the tension on the wire. The popping and straining of the piling was audible even from my vantage point 100 feet away. Over approximately 10 minutes, the crane operator gently increased pressure on the piling. Finally, in a slow surge, the creosote soaked pole began to slip out of the water. For a moment it seemed like it would end up being a hundred feet long, but gradually the operator slowed the rise of the pole.
Eager for the next step I waited another 5 minutes until it became clear that the next step was lunchtime. Having neglected to bring my own, I wandered back to my car and made my way back up the hill to the Westside.
Its strange to see the Landing so torn up, but it also feels good to see workboats and workvests plying our city waters. I was happy to watch a little bit of today's work, and I look forward to watching more.
I am certainly no Olympia old-timer. But I am curious to know when the last time someone has seen a tower crane used in the construction of a building in Olympia.
Last week I happened to be downtown with my camera when the crane was being assembled. I don't yet have any shots of the completed crane. I would like to get some good photographs at dusk, with the flood lights burning bright. At this rate, the new City Hall may be up and running before the November election. woo-wee!
Also included in the photographs is a protest banner, which questions the wisdom of spending so much on the new City Hall building.
Maybe you haven't heard it. If you live or work in Olympia and you haven't heard it, then you need to get your hearing checked. Because it's loud. I went by today. I saw it in action. More so, I heard it - felt it actually, as it vibrated the ground. I got right up close and personal. It was painfully loud. I wonder how it felt to the workers who were standing there, watching the machine hammer away... I wonder how long their shifts are. They did not look happy. In fact they seemed quite close to the point source, and not too enthused about the whole situation.
The deep piles are necessary for tall structures in this area because the land is composed of fill, which is mostly mud dredged up from the bay. The land is prone to liquefaction (where it turns into a soupy mess and becomes unable to support heavy structures) in an earthquake situation.
Is this the face of progress? Or is this an attempt to create an illusion of security and permanence? These are heavy questions. But it's time to be asking them, considering the amount of piles that we might, as residents of Olympia, be looking forward to - given the impetus for development, "revitalization" and investment in the vision of a "vibrant" downtown core.