It might look like a boulder field right now, but the Port of Klickitat has a plan for all those large rocks being deposited at Bingen Point.
The Port has been accepting rock fill from KLB Construction Co., the contractor handling the State Route 14 project, and storing it just south of the Bingen wastewater plant. The original estimate called for 34,000 cubic yards of mostly basalt rock to be hauled from the SR 14 right of way to the Bingen Point site.
Bringing the rock fill to the Port's land is benefiting several parties, including the city of Bingen, the Washington Department of Transportation, KLB, and the Port of Klickitat itself.
The Port is using the rock to build a 15-foot wide berm that will help to protect the boundary of the Bingen Lake wetlands area south of where the fill is being deposited. Equally important, it is being used to raise the grade about eight or nine feet from its current level -- enough to elevate the land above what is considered the 100-year flood plain.
There are five lots that could potentially be developed for light industrial use. Three of the lots are being raised above the flood plain with the rock placement, potentially making it available for light industrial use. Two additional lots are directly east of that site, and could also be filled if enough material is brought to the area.
Once the rock is in place, a cover of several inches of soil will be laid over it, and native grasses will be planted.
According to Port of Klickitat Executive Director Dianne Sherwood, the site would be available as early as next spring for use as a fire camp for Washington Department of Natural Resources firefighters if there is a major fire in the area.
"It will be a fairly level site, and DNR could utilize it to set up a large fire camp for workers that need facilities and places for tents," she explained. "Eventually we'd like to develop the site, but there's no infrastructure there right now. That's not to say if a company came in and said, `we've got to have this lot,' we wouldn't work with them. But the cost would be substantial to get utilities in there."
Sherwood pointed out that there were mutual benefits to the fill arrangement.
"The elevation of the property was very low, and we would have had to bring in tremendous amounts of fill," Sherwood explained. "The contractor (KLB) would have had to pay somebody to take the rock. That would have increased the cost of the SR 14 project. We saw it as a direct benefit to accept it as a disposal site. It helps the city of Bingen and the Washington Department of Transportation. It is very difficult to get that quality of fill, and we feel very fortunate. We couldn't pass it up."
She added that there was no direct cost to the Port for accepting the fill.
"Large rocks are very difficult to come by," Sherwood said. "Some rocks were the size of a VW Beetle. Ideally, the rocks would be two feet and under, but we have some four feet and six feet rocks. The state and the city are pleased KLB hasn't had to haul those rocks all over. It's a short haul for them, and that saves money."
Sherwood added that the Port could engage in trades with other agencies, exchanging large rocks for soil, and noted that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recently obtained some of the Port's rock for use in a riparian repair project along Snyder Creek in Klickitat. In exchange, WDFW provided smaller rocks and fill material to the Port's Bingen Point site.
Approximately three acres of Port property have been brought up to the preferred grade. Work at the site will continue indefinitely, perhaps stretching into next summer.
"It's a boulder field now, but it's starting to look like something," Sherwood said.