Central Lincoln PUD Breaks Ground On New Operations Center

PUDCentral Lincoln board members Judy Matheny (Florence area), Ron Benfield (Newport), Curt Abbott (South Lincoln County) and Larkin Kaliher (Depoe Bay area, Siletz, Toledo) join General Manager Debra Smith in breaking ground for the utility’s new Operations Center (courtesy photo)

Following successful bids from several local contractors, work has begun on the new Operations Center for Central Lincoln PUD, which will replace the utility’s 60-year-old facility in South Beach. The South Beach facility is in a tsunami inundation zone, putting employees, vehicles, key equipment, and materials at risk.

“Our communications, meter, and substation teams based here serve our entire District,” points out Central Lincoln’s General Manager, Debra Smith. “We also have regional line and tree crews, and engineers working from the current facility. A recent independent facilities study concluded all of our operations housed in South Beach must be relocated due to the likelihood of an earthquake or tsunami on the Central Coast, and now work is underway to make that relocation happen.”

Following a competitive bidding process, local contractors will be doing much of the Phase 1 work at the new site, including WW Construction, Road & Driveway, and RK Concrete of Newport; and Radar Plumbing of Lincoln City. Phase 1 work will total nearly $2.5 million. Requests for bids for Phase 2 are on Central Lincoln’s website and include the building structure, mechanical, electrical and plumbing work.

“We were really pleased so many local contractors responded to our request for bids, and that those bids were competitive,” said Ron Benfield, Central Lincoln’s board chair. “It’s great to be able to hire local businesses to do this work. This is an exciting project, and it will be quite a relief to know key Central Lincoln functions won’t be under floodwaters when a major disaster occurs.”

Multiple sites were considered within a ten mile radius of the current facility. “We looked in Toledo, and we looked for sites in South Beach that were above the tsunami inundation zone,” said Smith. “The property we purchased in north Newport was the only one that was large enough, above the tsunami inundation zone, and available for purchase, and it was the only property available that was ‘rock solid’ –meaning it passed our comprehensive geotechnical testing.”

Central Lincoln PUD’s new property is located on NE Avery Street—across from the UPS shipping facility. The former Ferguson Plumbing Supply building on Central Lincoln’s new property is being re-purposed, and an additional 60,000 square feet of building space is planned. gLAs Architects of Eugene has designed Central Lincoln’s new Operations Center, as the architecture firm has extensive experience designing buildings for the Oregon Coast’s unique climate, including NOAA’s Marine Operations Center-Pacific, the NOAA Barry Fischer Research Facility, and Oregon Coast Community College’s three campuses.

Buildings at the new location will include space for bucket trucks, linemen, a tree crew, substation maintenance, communications, meter shop, and warehousing, but will be about 10% smaller than the existing facility in South Beach, due to more efficient planning. Project planners anticipate the new facility to be completed in July 2017. The budget for the entire project, including land, is $27.8 million. Functions and employees currently housed in the Central Lincoln headquarters building across from Safeway on Highway 101 in Newport will not be moved into the new facility.

The future of Central Lincoln’s current Operations facility on Southeast Ash Street in South Beach has not been decided: “We can’t make that determination until the new Operations Center is nearly completed,” said Smith. “Selling it is certainly a possibility to help defray the costs of the new facility, but it could be several years before it is ready to be sold.”

Information and photo provided by Central Lincoln People’s Utility District (PUD)

Central Lincoln PUD Groundbreaking