Delays in Seattle Seawall Project Will Cost the City $71 Million and Another Year

Golden sunset with reflection on the seaReplacing the seawall on Seattle’s waterfront is turning out to be a longer and more expensive project than city officials originally anticipated. Last Monday Scott Kubly, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, announced that the project will take another year and $71 million more, according to the local ABC affiliate

“When you’re talking about a number like $71 million dollars, there’s probably not a good time to receive that news,” Kubly said. “The only thing we can say is it is a critical public safety and a critical transportation project.”

Kubly and project leaders hope that they can avoid having to shut down businesses, like they did last winter, in a move that cost the city $15 million alone in an attempt to get the job done sooner.

The reason for the delay in the project, which was originally estimated to cost around $10 million, is being placed on problems in the soil freeze wall they chose to use instead of more traditional methods used in most construction dewatering projects.

Environmental concerns also contributed to the delay. Presumably, they didn’t want to risk contamination, considering groundwater accounts for over 95% of the fresh water in this country and is the source of drinking water for half the nation.

A small portion of the $71 million — $200,00 to be exact — will pay for a panel of experts from across the country to review all facets of the project and figure out just what went wrong. One of the project leaders, Jessica Murphy, tried to defend the work being done.

“We do recognize there was an element of surprise. Things do happen fast in this project,” Murphy said.

Meanwhile the city will use revenue from commercial and waterfront parking taxes and real estate excise taxes to fund the additional costs of the project.

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