Cost of replacing Seattle’s seawall going up; project to be delayed by a year

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle officials say replacing the Elliott Bay Seawall will be more expensive than previously thought.

The Seattle Times reports ( http://bit.ly/1NrhRtU ) the budget will be increased by $71 million, from $339.2 million to $410.2 million, because of higher-than-expected construction costs.

Mayor Ed Murray says part of the project will be postponed at least a year and major components of the city’s planned new downtown waterfront park will be delayed.

Murray says the city will be able to manage the additional cost without raising new taxes. He said he’ll be proposing those changes to the City Council.

“The seawall is a critical public safety project that will help protect downtown during an earthquake,” Murray said. “We must move ahead to complete this project.

“Today I am initiating an outside review of the budget and operation of the seawall project so that we can get an expert opinion to validate our new cost estimates and advise the City on how to proceed,” Murray said. “We must do better moving forward.

“Additionally, we will defer the start of the next phase of the project– replacing the seawall from Pike Street to Virginia Street. We are doing this to both ensure proper completion of the current phase and to give us time to look for potential savings in the final phase. That means completion of the entire project will be delayed by a year.

“We will be able to manage the higher costs without raising new taxes. We will use Real Estate Excise Tax receipts and bond against the commercial parking tax, both of which are currently unallocated sources of funds,” Murray said.

“This will mean spending on major components of the new waterfront park will be delayed.”

The seawall project, to date, has been mostly funded by a $290 million bond measure Seattle voters approved in 2012.