The Port of Redwood City’s $17 million modernized wharf will open and be dedicated Wednesday, April 23, at 10 a.m., featuring presentations by Rep. Jackie Speier, Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee, and Port Commission Chair Lorianna Kastrop. It is the first new wharf for cargo ships in the San Francisco Bay Area that meets the latest operational, seismic, and sea level design standards for the wharf structure itself and adjacent shoreline.
The modernized wharf replaced a 60-year old World War II era wooden wharf with a new bulk handling concrete wharf that was designed to meet the present demands for operational and seismic conditions as well as climate change issues.
The wharf will be used to dock dry bulk ships of a size known as “Panamax,” the largest ships currently able to pass through the Panama Canal. From the deck of the new wharf, mobile cranes and large hoppers will be able to load/unload ships. Thirty-foot wide concrete ramps connect the wharf to the shore.
Construction began in September 2012 with the demolition of the old wooden Wharves 1 & 2 and the adjacent warehouse. A 950-foot long seawall designed to meet storm surges and predicted sea level rise has been built along the shore of the Port adjacent to the modernized wharf. Additional project improvements include a new 2,100 square-foot longshoreman’s building, upgraded water/electrical utilities, new seismic monitoring equipment, new security fencing and gates, exterior lighting, and parking area.
To meet the Port's long term goals and market conditions, the Port elected to replace the timber wharves with a new reinforced-concrete structure that meets both operational and seismic design for a modern multi-use marine terminal.
The new concrete wharf is located on the northern end of the Redwood Harbor Ship Channel and is situated between a Cemex cement marine terminal and a Sims Metals scrap iron terminal. The new portion of the wharves is approximately 430-ft long and 60-ft wide with two access ramps located at the north and south edges of the wharf. The remainder of the 900-foot long wharf reuses the existing monopile dolphins and connects them with new aluminum walkways.
A new seawall extends along the entire project for a total length of 950-ft. The wall consists of steel sheet with a top finished elevation of +13 ft MLLW. An allowance for an extension of 1-ft in height is constructed to bring the eventual height of wall to an elevation +14 ft MLLW. The existing shoreline protection is augmented with new 12-in rip rap rock to prevent potential erosion and scour. The wharf has been sized to accommodate a new conveyor system with the hopper located at the shoreside portion of the new wharf. Other appurtenances that are included in the new wharf are: bollards, fenders, potable water, lighting, electric, power, seismic monitoring accelerometers, and allowance for future ship-to-shore power.
The wharf structure was designed with plastic hinges between the top of the pilings and concrete deck to dissipate earthquake energy. The project also incorporated installation of seismic recording equipment on the new wharf and on the shoreline to monitor earthquake impacts at the facility. The level of damage occurring to the wharves can then be directly related to the earthquake motions recorded at the facility.
The design team reviewed available estimated sea level rise estimates from the California Climate Action Team and selected an average expected sea level rise over the 50-year life of the structure, which was 18 inches. The design team coastal engineers also modeled the local conditions and determined that an expected 100-yr storm surge of approximately six inches could be expected during the life of the structure. To account for the expected surge and sea level rise, two feet was added to the height of the wharf to result in a wharf height of +16-ft (4.9-m) MLLW, which is also approximately two feet higher than most existing waterfront structures in the San Francisco Bay. BCDC agreed with the approach and noted that this terminal was the first facility to consider climate changes and incorporate adaptive measures in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Port also approached the other regulatory agencies to mitigate concerns for the wildlife habitat and water quality. The US Army Corps of Engineers and Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board had additional requirements that included: use of debris barriers during demolition and use of bubble curtains during pile driving activites. All creosoted piles and timbers were extracted and disposed of at a special disposal facility.
The project was financed by a $10 million 2012 Port Revenue Bond and Port capital project reserves, which has been set aside for years in planning for construction of this new wharf.