Work ramps up at Bush Point launch

Workers watch as a pile driver uses pressure and vibration to realign one of the concrete pilings at Bush Point on Saturday. - Jeff VanDerford
Workers watch as a pile driver uses pressure and vibration to realign one of the concrete pilings at Bush Point on Saturday.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

Bush Point residents used to the song of shore birds in the morning woke up to a completely different sound Saturday — the rough cacophony of workers trying to re-align a concrete piling at the new boat launch ramp.

When Department of Fish & Wildlife contractors were pounding the column closest to the shore last winter, it struck a submerged rock and began to “walk” away from them.

It was a big problem, because the piles are an essential part of the new boat launch. They’re designed to anchor floats under the dock, allowing boaters to get their vessels safely in and out of the water.

With some construction deadlines now passed, workers from IMCO, the contractors for the first phase of the boat launch project returned to Bush Point Saturday morning to fix the wayward column.

At first they tried to liquefy the rock lying 15 feet below the sand then twist the column into the substrate.

That didn’t work, according to project foreman Tim Whiteis.

“The key is to get energy all the way down the column,” he said. “We’re using a dedicated piece of equipment that concentrates vibration and pressure to do the job.”

Sure enough, the ground shook whenever the giant crane’s engine engaged; anxious workers watched with great anticipation. So did Bush Point resident Mark Hoidal.

“We’ll be happy when this is finally done,” Hoidal noted as a large bulldozer removed sand from the piling’s base.

“It’s been a tough job, but the public needs a good place to put in boats on the west side,” he said.

Three other pilings were to be fixed and ready for use by the end of Wednesday. Each column will be cut to a uniform length and topped with a cone for bird control.

No word yet, however, when the ramp will be ready for boaters.

“At this stage I can’t say and I don’t think anyone else will even hazard a guess,” port manager Ed Field said. “The port has a daily presence at the site and we encourage results the best we can.”

The ramp is a pre-cast concrete grid that will provide traction for cars and boat trailers. Under the terms of a 25-year interlocal agreement, the state funded and built the ramp and the Port of South Whidbey will manage and maintain it.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or e-mail

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