What’s a pit-to-pier project without the pit?

Fred Hill Materials has sold its gravel-mining operation known as the Shine Pit, yet the company plans to move full speed ahead on the controversial pit-to-pier project. See today’s story in the Kitsap Sun.

I’ve been hearing rumors for well over a year that the company was struggling financially, yet I was never able to confirm anything.

With this sale, the company acknowledges that it has been having financial troubles, at least with respect to the construction downturn in the current economy.

Opponents may hope that this new development will mean the end of the pit-to-pier proposal, which includes a four-mile conveyor belt and a 1,000-foot-long pier designed to move gravel by barge and ship throughout the Puget Sound region and along the West Coast. Environmental groups argue that the project could injure Hood Canal, threaten smooth operations at the Hood Canal bridge and interfere with Navy operations.

Company officials insist that the benefits of the project far outweigh the potential problems. They say the sale of the Shine Pit will mean an infusion of money to continue environmental studies and permitting activities on the pit-to-pier project.

It appears the company is staking a good deal of its future on this major project, despite a well-organized opposition.

Today’s story about the sale of the gravel pit was posted on the Sun’s Web site yesterday afternoon. I expected to see a bunch of comments by now, but there has been only one. The writer, didisaythat, makes an interesting point:

I can’t believe that no one’s commented on this story yet. Poor Fred has got to be rolling in his grave about now. How can they have a pit-to-pier project anymore when they just sold their pit ????? Lets see how long they can keep the concrete end up and running before they sell that too…. This story just doesn’t add up.

For permitting details, see Jefferson County’s project site.
For opposing arguments, see Hood Canal Coalition.

7 thoughts on “What’s a pit-to-pier project without the pit?

  1. This is one of the most ignorant things I have read yet. For seven years we have been reading that there is 20,000 acres of sand and gravel up there. What if they sold 10 or 15% of that. That still leaves them with enough material for the next 500 years. So, now they have a huge reserve of gravel, a site that legally allows them to build a pier, and money to fund it. Oh by the way…..well organized opposition??? I don’t think so. I have seen elementary school children do a more sophisticated job of organizing their thoughts and ideas then the Hood Canal Coalition.

  2. I,m tired of the save the Canal cry babies crying about a gravel pit.The center of attention should be how can we have a house,roads,etc… without a gravel pit?
    My Shelton house borders a gravel pit big deal .I worked next to the Lonestar pit in University Place near Tacoma for nine years you couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.Now the pit is gone we now have a new golf course,and almost 2 miles of nice waterfront.waa,waa,waa.

  3. Isn’t the Hood Canal Coalition the group that successfully fought to get the tolls removed from the Hood Canal Bridge some 25-30 years ago?

    People made fun of that group I remember, especially the toll takers.
    Stopped at the tolls one morning, I asked the familiar toll taker what he thought of the latest attempt of the ‘group’ to get the tolls shut down.
    He laughed and said that “I’ll still be here long after they’re gone.”
    Six months or a year later the toll takers were gone, awhile later the toll booths disappeared.

    scorpio09 – If you don’t think they are organized to suit you – why don’t you help them?
    Sharon O’Hara

  4. No sharon that is not the same group. These people are just the ones that live on the waterfront, polluting away, and don’t have the ethics to see how foolish they are. Mining sand and gravel, then shipping it by barges and ships what a smart thing to do.

  5. Scorpio09,

    I can’t help but wonder what you found “most ignorant” about this post. I thought I was just reporting some casual observations and raising a few questions, hardly anything worthy of dispute. Even the headline is a question.

    I guess you could argue about my statement that the opposition is well organized. But consider this: Counted among opponents of the pit-to-pier project are the two members of Congress who serve this area, as well as many legislators. Local Democratic parties have signed on, as well as dozens of other organizations.

    If you’re referring to the comment from didisaythat, you have to realize that a little hyperbole is normal for blog comments.

    If I have expressed ignorance here, it is only because I don’t know the internal strategies of this company, and I don’t expect company officials to be up front about everything. If you know more, please share your wisdom. (I will check out the issue of future gravel rights.)

    But if this is truly “one of the most ignorant things I have read yet,” then you really don’t read very many things online.

  6. Ah, yes, our “progressive” members of Congress out to make us fossil fuel independent by removing hydro dams and now filling the two lane 101 with lines of gravel trucks. Never mind they’ll leak more pollution into the Canal and consume far more fuel than would happen if the same amounts were barged.

    Could the real agenda be denying consumers outside of Washington a reasonably priced supply of sand and gravel?

  7. As promised, I checked out the question of future gravel rights retained by Fred Hill Materials.

    It turns out that sale of the Shine Pit includes a lease for the 156-acre Wahl Extraction Area, where gravel mining is already permitted. But the sale does not include a 525-acre lease known as Meridian that could be developed in the future.

    See my story posted online today for a few more details. This was something I had not considered, but it doesn’t really affect the observations in the main blog entry.

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