Crews would construct and store pontoons until they were needed for a recovery effort. If the pontoons are not needed for emergency use, they would be used for the planned replacement of the SR 520 bridge.
Nobody seriously believes a "recovery effort" would ever be attempted and the problem with the second part of the statement, "they would be used for the planned replacement" is that there is no plan for the replacement. Well, the west side constituents have a plan alright; cripple the process so that only a substandard six lane bridge can ever be built.
Again from the WSDOT site:
Why is WSDOT building pontoons?
Pontoons are the foundation of a floating bridge and can take several years to construct. They are large, hollow concrete structures designed to support the weight of the road, plus the cars, trucks and buses that use the bridge daily.
Notice something missing? The new 520 bridge is supposed to be "rail capable" (which is sort of like two year old computers being "Vista capable"). The problem is the pontoons being constructed are inadaquate for the additional load that would be required for rail.
WSDOT freely admits that the dark of the night pontoon construction will sidestep the Environmental Impact Statement (that's the real reason for the "emergency recovery" cover story). Once again from the WSDOT site:
What is the project timeline?
- Begin advanced construction methods and engineering effort.
- Issue draft environmental impact statement (EIS).
- Issue final EIS.
And then farther down:
WSDOT plans to begin building pontoons at an existing facility in 2009, develop a new construction facility, and begin constructing pontoons at the new facility by 2011.
Damn the EIS, full speed ahead! The major pontoon construction site is slated for one of two privately held sites in Grays Harbor. Evidently the publicly owned Port land was "environmentally unsuitable". Concrete construction on this scale has never been done in this area but Grays Harbor needs a public works program so instead of using Port of Tacoma facilities that recently completed pontoons for the new half of the Hood Canal bridge or building them "on site" using the concrete plant in Kenmore the State plans to barge these up the coast and around Cape Flattery. No big, the new bridge is supposed to withstand 92mph wind gusts. Just think of this as "quality control".