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August 7, 2019

Waterfront Seattle project kicks off on Columbia Street

Journal Construction Editor

Photo by Benjamin Minnick [enlarge]
Columbia Street will become a two-way bus corridor when it reopens in January.

Gary Merlino Construction Co. this week began initial work on its $189.1 million contract to build the new Alaskan Way corridor along the Seattle waterfront.

Merlino is starting with Columbia Street so that the city can open that street as a two-way bus corridor, linking Third Avenue with Alaskan Way for buses traveling between downtown and southwest King County. Columbia currently is a one-way street, heading west.

Crews have closed Columbia between First Avenue and Alaskan Way, which is where the on-ramp to the Alaskan Way Viaduct once stood. When Columbia reopens in early January, it will have a bus-only lane and a car lane in each direction between Third and Alaskan Way.

Documents from the city's Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects show a Rapid Ride transit stop on the north side of Columbia, between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. There also will be a new tri-globe light near the transit stop, like those found in Pioneer Square, and three London Plane trees will be planted, one in front of the DJC Building and the other two adjacent to the parking garage and First and Columbia. They will join four existing London Plane trees on Columbia between First and Alaskan Way.

New sidewalks will be poured on both sides of Columbia, from First Avenue to Alaskan Way, and new underground utilities installed.

The city says most work will be done during the daytime on weekdays, but there will be occasional overnight and weekend work.

Sidewalks on Columbia will remain open on at least one side of the street during construction. There also will be intermittent traffic closures on Western, Post and First avenues.

Merlino's contract is one of the first parts of the $724 million Waterfront Seattle project, which will rebuild Alaskan Way from South King to Pike streets, and build a new street, known as Elliott Way, from Pike to Bell streets. The new surface street will span a total of 17 blocks from Pioneer Square to Belltown, with two lanes of traffic in either direction for the majority of the street.

Waterfront Seattle will also construct a park promenade along the water, rebuild piers 58 and 62, build an elevated connection from Pike Place Market to the waterfront, and improve east-west connections between downtown and Elliott Bay.

The city plans to start rebuilding Alaskan Way later this fall, after the viaduct has been demolished and its footprint restored. The city says it is committed to keeping the waterfront open and accessible throughout construction.

The waterfront rebuild is expected to be finished in 2023. More information is at waterfrontseattle.org.


Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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