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July 27, 2023

Transformed dock is a symbol of progress, sustainability, community

  • Hoffman's team had a significant goal of maximizing DBE opportunities.
    Hoffman Construction


    Hoffman is proud to have been a partner in the transformation of Seattle's waterfront through the redevelopment of Colman Dock.

    To maintain Colman Dock's critical role as a regional multimodal transportation hub, we replaced aging and seismically vulnerable wood piles and trestle foundation with steel for strength and longevity, and demolished and replaced the ferry terminal and passenger facilities. Ultimately, this project added an overhead loading and walkway, an 8,500-square-foot King County passenger-only ferry building, and a new 23,000-square-foot terminal building for Washington State Ferries.

    Despite myriad challenges encountered over the past couple of years, the redevelopment of Colman Dock has proven to be a highly successful and enjoyable project. Our crews and trade partners remained resilient through record heat, record rain, a pandemic, and a concrete strike. We are proud of our collaboration with WSDOT, Washington State Ferries, King County, and all the project stakeholders in navigating these challenges.

    Despite these potential delays and challenges, the project opened on time. We are just finishing the key remaining structures: a new entry building and an elevated pedestrian bridge connector.

    Photo from Hoffman Construction [enlarge]
    Part of the job involved working from the water side of the dock.

    With over 10 million passengers a year, Colman Dock is the busiest ferry terminal in Washington and one of the busiest in the world, so maintaining uninterrupted service for passengers during construction was critical. We performed extensive preconstruction planning to develop comprehensive safety and “no disruption” phasing plans for the busy terminal.

    A robust building information modeling (BIM) execution plan was a critical tool used to keep the facility operational and plan the intricate phasing. Early in preconstruction, our team performed a laser scan under the terminal. This scan was integrated with the terminal digital model to ensure the interface of the new beams with the existing pile caps was seamless. Our BIM team also developed a synchronized phasing model, linking the BIM model to the project schedule to minimize any potential issues or delays during the construction phase.

    Our commitment to safeguarding water wildlife and minimizing environmental impact was also of utmost importance throughout the project. To achieve this, we implemented meticulous coordination of in-water work, carefully adhering to designated “fish windows.” These windows were crucial for preserving the habitat and ensuring the safety of protected species, such as migrating salmon. Recognizing the potential harm that impact hammers could cause through underwater shock waves during the installation of steel piles, we took precautions to mitigate any risks.

    In addition to ensuring the terminal remained active throughout construction and opened on time, our team had a significant goal of maximizing opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs). We are deeply committed to promoting diversity and leveling the playing field for small and disadvantaged businesses. To achieve this, we took a comprehensive approach, breaking down project scopes to align with the capabilities of the local subcontracting market. We carefully examined opportunities to divide these scopes into smaller packages, actively encouraging DBE participation.

    Our dedication to supporting DBEs extended beyond simple outreach efforts. We actively engaged with the community by participating in various forums, such as the Regional Contracting Forum, Business After Hours, Tabor 100, National Association of Minority Contractors, First Thursday, and other local events. Collaborating with Platinum Group, we developed a DBE information session where DBEs from different disciplines could gain insights into the project, learn how to collaborate with our team, and explore upcoming bidding opportunities. To facilitate individual attention, Platinum arranged one-on-one sessions between the DBEs and our project team, enabling specific questions to be addressed.

    We were has also involved in WSDOT's mentor-protégé program, which provides opportunities for participants to improve their business practices, grow their firms, and develop relationships in the region. At Colman Dock, we have had the privilege of working with Alcantar, Bubbers, and other trade partners to provide technical assistance and help them grow their businesses.

    Furthermore, our commitment went beyond the contract award. We aimed to assist DBE firms in their growth and development by providing support in bonding, payment terms, administrative assistance, and training. Witnessing the success of firms like Steelkorr on the Colman Dock project, reaching a point where the firm's size exceeded DBE requirements, brings us immense satisfaction. Seeing small firms thrive and prosper is ultimately what matters to us.

    From the project's inception, the Washington State Department of Transportation set a DBE goal of 9% of the project's maximum allowable construction cost (MACC). Through proactive implementation of these DBE outreach initiatives, we are making significant progress and are set to achieve the goal.

    The transformed Colman Dock now serves as a symbol of progress, sustainability, and community, thanks to the unwavering efforts of all the people involved and their collaborative approach to this remarkable project.

    Andrew Powell is vice president at Hoffman Construction Co.

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