Innovative material replaces aging wood pilings in pilot program.
The Port of Seattle is replacing fender piling at the Maritime Industrial Center’s (MIC) east pier with plastic piling. Part of a pilot program, the new low-maintenance pilings are made of recycled materials that are impervious to marine borers, and resistant to corrosion.
American Construction Company of Tacoma is driving these innovative plastic and fiberglass fender piles into the ship canal, replacing the aging creosote treated wood piles currently there. Once driven as much as 20 feet into the ground, the pilings will be connected to the dock. These piles will act as a buffer between a ship or barge and the wooden docks, protecting and lengthening the useful life of the dock.
Since these composite pilings are relatively new technology, the Port of Seattle is leading the way in the Puget Sound to test what could to be a clean, green product that will help protect the Ship Canal and the fish that either live there or pass through en route to their spawning habitat.
Installing the new piles involves a few simple and careful steps. Using a floating crane barge docked alongside the pier, a chain attached to a boom pulls the old wooden piles from the earth and water and stacks them on another barge. The new plastic composite piles are then sunk in the submerged earth and tied into place. A steel hood attached to the crane’s boom is lowered over the top of a pile and then uses vibrations and downward pressure to sink the pile.
The composite plastic fender piles have many advantages including considerable shock absorption capabilities and what is anticipated to be a longer life expectancy, and may be a good alternative to wood or steel fender piles. Since this is a pilot program, the Port of Seattle will observe how these new pilings perform in their new role before using them at other facilities.