SEATTLE -- Mayor Jenny Durkan has approved the "emergency dismantling" of Seattle's 50-year-old downtown Pier 58, she announced Friday.
The pier between the Seattle Aquarium and the Great Wheel holds up Waterfront Park -- a boardwalk space with benches, scenic views and telescopes.
Seattle Structural, a private engineering firm, recommends Pier 58 be removed within 90 days, a Durkan news release said. The city already was planning to renovate the pier as part of an overhaul of the entire waterfront after the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct -- just not so soon.
Seattle closed the park and hired the firm to complete an assessment after discovering last week the pier had shifted, leaving a gap between the pier and the Elliott Bay Seawall, which was recently rebuilt on the edge of the land.
Metal plates span the joint between the pier and the seawall and accommodate some movement between the two structures, but not as much as has recently occurred. Crews checking on a waterline issue last week discovered the pier had moved several inches, leaving a visible gap, officials have said.
The park won't reopen until the pier is replaced and a park redesign that's already in progress is realized, the Durkan administration has said.
Removing Pier 58 will require collaboration with the aquarium and the Great Wheel operation "to protect adjoining piers and minimize impacts to these attractions," the mayor's Friday news release said. The Miner's Landing tourist hub, located on Pier 57 with the Great Wheel, also will be involved.
Seattle's Office of the Waterfront will enter into an "emergency consultant contract" to design the pier's removal and is working with the city's Department of Transportation to expedite permits, the release said, promising that a removal timeline would be shared publicly this month.
"Pier 58 is an aging piece of infrastructure long slated for a significant overhaul," the news release added. "The Pier 58 replacement was already planned and funded, with removal of the existing pier and construction of a new public park pier planned for 2022. Over the past week, natural forces have accelerated the timeline for replacement."
The design for a new Pier 58 and public park is 60% done, according to the city. The project, which will include a playground, is expected to wrap up in 2024.
The city has nearly completed work on another new park at nearby Pier 62.
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