Photos by Ty Swenson
Seattle Public Utilities new South Transfer Station at 130 S. Kenyon St., scheduled for completion in July 2012, had a change in plans as engineers brought down the steel framing to coat it with a more durable paint than originally used.

Here’s why the new South Transfer Station steel was up, and now down

Anyone driving past the new South Transfer Station being built at 130 S. Kenyon St. recently may have needed a double take. Suddenly, the steel structure of the two-story, 140,000 sq. foot facility (see the photo) had simply disappeared.

As West Seattle resident Scott LaPeer put it, "Seems it was going together as quickly as an eight year old could build something with his toy Erector Set... and now they took it all apart?"

The reason? A new paint job.

“At the same time the new building was being erected, our design team figured out that we might be able to save about $3 million in long-term maintenance costs by upgrading the interior of the building to a more durable paint,” Seattle Public Utility (SPU) spokesman Andy Ryan said.

“Fortunately, we hadn’t yet poured concrete at the site, and we calculated that disassembling the steel structure and sending the pieces to local paint shops for refinishing would still be cost effective,” he added.

Overall, Ryan said the disassembly, painting and reassembly will cost about $2.8 million, but he still expects the project to be finished on time (June 2012) and at or under budget ($75 million). According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, that cost will be split between SPU and Mortenson Construction.

Before the steel came down, Ryan said about two weeks of work had been put into erecting it. He expects the painting to be finished by mid-October so the steel can rise again.

“In addition to the dollar savings we’ll realize by upgrading the paint, there will also be huge advantages for our customers,” Ryan said.

“Instead of having to close the facility every four or five years to touch up the paint, the maintenance cycle will now be extended to about 15 years, so it will be open many more hours than it would have without the upgrade,” he added.

Ryan said no mistakes were made in the steel’s original paint job. He said SPU engineers noticed the coating when the steel started going up and began discussing the possibility of upgrading to a more durable paint.

Instead of a lowest-bid project, where the city has to go with the lowest bidder, Ryan said the transfer station is a “design-build” project that allows for “more flexibility.” He said the old transfer station was in place for 50 years and envisions the new one will stand for 50 as well, so taking advantage of “on-the-fly” improvements makes sense for a long-term facility.

“It’s going to save people money, it will be open longer, and it’s coming in on budget and on time,” Ryan said.

To read more on the features of the new transfer station, please check out the Herald story, "The city dump never looked so good."

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