Building Mukilteo Lighthouse Park

Sept. 28, 2010

The American Society of Landscape Architects has proclaimed April 2008 as National Landscape Architecture Month, but Ohno Construction has been working since last fall at building a waterfront park in Mukilteo, Wash.

The American Society of Landscape Architects has proclaimed April 2008 as National Landscape Architecture Month, but Ohno Construction has been working since last fall at building a waterfront park in Mukilteo, Wash.

Mukilteo Lighthouse Park, a former Washington State park, includes the lighthouse at the west end of the city of Mukilteo and 14.4 acres south of it. Constructed in the 1950s on a filled tideland, the park has provided beach access ever since. The property is west and south of the Washington State Ferries terminal that provides ferry service to Whidbey Island. The state deeded the property to the city of Mukilteo in 2003, and the city adopted a Lighthouse Park Master Plan the following year to make physical improvements to the site.

The city put Phase 1 of the project, which was designed by ARC Architects of Seattle, out to bid in September 2007 and subsequently awarded the $2.9-million job to Seattle-based Ohno Construction

Phase 1 will construct open landscaped areas for passive recreation; sheltered picnic facilities; a children’s play area; an interpretive program with displays and viewpoints; internal pathways; the first section of a waterfront promenade; a new restroom facility; and ADA access to the beach via a new parking and access area, according to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which is providing some of the funding for the project.

Access to the Phase 1 work area is through an existing parking lot that will be converted to park space in later phases of the project’s development. Although the park property has terrific views across Puget Sound, the parking lot is larger than the original park area and occupies much of the view real estate. Eventually the parking lot will be removed, and a new parking lot will be built parallel to the railroad tracks that border the property. This will allow for a larger contiguous area of grass, and create a better experience for park users, according to the city.

Choice of Equipment

Construction of the project, which is taking place on about five acres at the south end of the property, began in October 2007, said Jeff Byerly, Ohno Construction’s project manager.

We pulled up a little bit of the parking lot, but essentially we’re working in the area south of the lot,” he said.

The first tasks were the delivery of 20,000 tons of preload to stabilize the site and the demolition of an existing restroom, Byerly said. It wasn’t long before the weather became a factor; a big storm pounded Puget Sound in mid-November and left the park under water, stopping work for several weeks.

Work resumed in earnest once the site dried out. At that point, Byerly recognized one of the advantages of running a winter project. Ohno Construction mostly operates owned equipment, and with few jobs going during the rainy season there were plenty of machines available for Byerly’s crew.

“It’s nice doing a winter job because you have the choice of equipment,” he observed. Key machines on the project include three excavators, Caterpillar D-5 and D-6 dozers, a John Deere 624H loader, an Ingersoll Rand compactor, a Case 580E backhoe loader, and various smaller pieces.

The Ohno crew set to work regrading the project area and installing a force main sewer line, water line and power to the site of the new restroom building.

Another wintertime advantage at the Mukilteo site was safety: With few visitors coming to the park in the dark and rainy season, the risk of accidents was reduced. The nature of the work also contributed to a clean safety record.

“We’re not digging anything very deep or building anything very high,” Byerly observed.

Landscaping to Come

Yoshio Ohno founded Ohno Construction in 1966 while studying landscape architecture at the University of Washington. The company’s primary markets are large-scale parks and athletic facilities in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

For the Mukilteo project, Ohno Construction is using subcontractors to build the structures, Byerly said. Progressive Building of Arlington, Wash., is building the two picnic shelters and the restroom structure. Caliber Concrete Construction Inc. of Milton, Wash., is the sub for flatwork and curbs, and Edge Concrete of Woodinville, Wash., will do the architectural concrete.

An interesting element of Edge Concrete’s work will be the construction of a ship wall on the beach that will resemble a marooned ship, Byerly said. The shipwall, along with rebuilt sand dunes and about 100 imported logs anchored with cable and duckbills along the 1,500 feet of beach line, will help to shield the park from future storms.

“There’s always been a history of intrusion of water into the parking lot,” Byerly explained, and the improvements on the beach should improve the situation.

The landscaping subcontractor is Tri-Falls Construction LLC of Camano Island, Wash. Its job will be to hydro-seed about 68,000 square yards of lawn in the park area, plus planting various bushes and trees.

Byerly said the project is scheduled for completion by September, in time for the local Lighthouse Festival, but he expects to be able to open the beachfront in June and the buildings sometime this summer. Three more phases of work are planned:

  • Phase II: Improvements to the lighthouse area, including a multi-use turnaround, new paths and landscaping;
  • Phase III: Improvements to Front Street, an entry staircase from Mukilteo Speedway, completion of a park driveway and new parking in the southeast corner of the park;
  • Phase IV: Completion of the pathway system, a new pedestrian pier, the central lawn and festival area, and rest rooms near the lighthouse.