KALAMA — Port of Kalama commissioners Wednesday awarded a $1.2 million contract to an Astoria company to modify its T-barge into a commercial dock.

WCT Marine and Construction will install watertight bulkheads, a crane and other components on the port’s 171-foot-long barge.

The dock will provide berthing and cargo loading and unloading for three to five commercial boats just outside the marina.

Bergerson Construction, also based in Astoria, started preparing the area just north of the marina for the barge this week. Bergerson will remove steel and timber piles and place new steel piles to prepare for the placement of the barge. Workers will also build a new pier and gangway and pave a parking area.

The commissioners awarded Bergerson that $1.13 million contract in December. Port Field and Maintenance Superintendent Darin Sampson said at the time the engineer’s estimate for the project increased from $965,000 to $1.1 million three days before the bid opening because of increases to steel tariffs. The difference between Bergerson’s bid and the estimate was about $30,000.

Sampson said Wednesday he is looking for ways to cut project costs. Foregoing painting the barge could save about $200,000, he said.

The total cost of the project is about $2.3 million, up from the $1.5 million the port budgeted. Sampson said the original engineer’s estimate wasn’t as accurate as it should have been.

The full project should wrap up sometime this summer, Sampson said.

In other business, the port commissioners approved an extension to a contingency agreement in Northwest Innovations Works’ lease. The agreement included a list of contingencies for the company to satisfy before the actual land lease begins, said Liz Newman, marketing and communications manager.

The original development schedule outlined in the lease no longer applies because many contingency items have been completed, Newman said. The extension changes the agreement to measure progress with events rather than calendar dates, she said. The new agreement is set to expire April 9, 2022.

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