A federal agency says a new, still-unreleased study examining the troubled Port of Anchorage expansion project suggests that it shouldn’t go forward as designed because of the risk of shifting forces during an earthquake.
Instead of constructing a traditional dock on piling, interlocking sheets of steel have been hammered into the sea floor to form U-shaped cells, called Open Cell Sheet Pile, that are then backfilled with dirt and gravel. The project has been stalled since 2010 when inspections found that numerous steel sheets were damaged during installation.
“While the study is still being finalized, preliminary findings support our concerns that selection of an Open Cell Sheet Pile design was inappropriate for the conditions at the Port of Anchorage,” the Maritime Administration, known as MARAD, said in a prepared statement. “Specifically, three of the four port expansion project berths would not meet industry design standards during earthquake-related dynamic pressures.”
The new structure, which was about one-third built when work halted, has been controversial among Anchorage engineers from the start.