Since I am obviously too lazy to keep up with this blog, I have posted an article I wrote today and published online at bicyclepaper.com. The link to the website follows.
Seattle, Wash. (January 14, 2010) – Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spoke today at the old Washington Street Public Boat Landing, across from Bicycle Paper offices. He was there for a press conference regarding the deteriorating seawall near downtown’s waterfront, undoubtedly in light of the recent earthquake that has devastated the country of Haiti.
The seawall, built between 1916 and 1936, was created to support road and railway access to ships coming and going in and out of the Puget Sound, a major shipping port. An estimated 2,000 feet of the structure was built around a timber-supported platform, reinforced by concrete. Over the years, the wood has disintegrated and water has seeped into the already soft soil that surrounds it.
Speaking about the issue just two days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti was no coincidence. If a major earthquake happened in the Seattle area, it would certainly have a significant impact on the seawall and the Highway 99 viaduct that stands just feet away from the water.
The Mayor announced his intention to propose a ballot measure in May of this year regarding the topic. As it is now, the City plans on repairing the seawall within six years.
“Six years is not acceptable. We need to move as quickly as we can. This is not about the viaduct [or the proposed tunnel to replace it] as much as it is a concern for the public’s safety,” stated the Mayor. The current plan for replacing the outdated viaduct does not include the seawall; an endeavor he insured will be a stand-alone project.
The proposed plan will cost at least $241 million to complete, with higher estimates closer to $291 million. So who is going to pay for this? Most likely it will be King County landowners via a property tax. He estimates it will cost owners of a $400,000 house about $48 per year.
McGinn is expected to send his proposal to City Council in February for a special election on May 18.
The Mayor stated that there have already been bids by companies to take on the task, and prices have been lower than expected due to the downturn in construction projects – a direct result of the ailing economy.
When asked how the construction would impact travel along Alaskan Way and, more specifically, the bike path in which hundreds of commuters use daily, including him, McGinn couldn’t answer.
“That is part of the planning process,” he said. The Mayor rode his Trek 700, the bike he uses to get around the city, to and from the press conference.