City negotiating with waterfront businesses about seawall construction schedule
Construction is scheduled to begin next fall on the most vulnerable section of Seattle’s aging seawall, a years-long project that is certain to disrupt businesses near the waterfront. But talks are underway to adjust the schedule after waterfront businesses complained the construction schedule would devastate tourism-dependent shops, hotels, restaurants and other retailers.
An open house sponsored by the city Wednesday night displayed diagrams, detailing the project design alternatives contained in a draft Environmental Impact Statement. Those details are important to neighbors but of greater concern to local business is the proposal for a construction blackout between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Business leaders insist the construction-free period should be extended through the month of September to take advantage of late summer, early fall tourist traffic. Otherwise, they say, businesses could fail during the seven-year project.
Seattle’s Department of Transportation recently selected the joint venture of Mortenson Construction and Manson Construction to build the $300 million seawall. “Now that we have the general contractor on board, and we start bidding out the component parts, we can look at what the schedule will be and what we can do and can’t do with the time available to us,” Mayor Mike McGinn said this week.
The President of Ivar’s, Bob Donegan, is encouraged. “It’s the single most expensive and most complex capital project in the city’s history and the mayor getting involved is a good thing, he said Wednesday.” Donegan met this week with representatives of the contractors and comes away confident that protecting waterfront businesses is a priority. “These guys are professionals, they know how to work around busy seasons and we will work with them and they’ll work with us and the city will help us on that and we’ll get through this,” predicted Donegan.
Project manager Jennifer Wieland promised the city is committed to maintaining access to the waterfront during construction “and helping to let people know that the waterfront’s open for business,” she said. “It might not look the same as what you’re used to seeing, it might be a little dirtier but it’s there and it’s open.”
Donegan said a lot of details important to the survival of waterfront businesses remain unresolved. “Where does the road go, when does construction begin, what about noise at night for the residents who live on the waterfront, what are the signs that direct people through the construction zone to the waterfront, does it feel safe, can moms push strollers, can people get off the cruise ships at (Pier) 66 and walk to the aquarium?”, he asked.
A final Environmental Impact Statement, ready by early next year, should answer all of those questions.