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Seawall project delayed 1 year; expected to cost $70-million more than planned

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SEATTLE – City officials pledge to dig for answers into what went wrong with a projected cost overrun at the new seawall construction site.

Mayor Ed Murray’s office announced it plans to spend another $200,000 to further study several aspects of the project’s design and construction.

Several business owners also said the never-ending construction zone pushes tourist dollars away.

“We’re glad that they’re working on it but it’s gotta be faster,” said store manager Kari Hicks. “We’ve got to get everything looking good again.”

Project leaders revealed on Monday the new seawall won’t be completed until at least 2017 and will run more than $400-million.

“It seems like a very big number,” said SDOT project manager Jessica Murphy. “But what that will do is it will ensure completion of the seawall which is a very important public safety project here downtown.”

Planners said the new seawall is designed to withstand strong earthquakes, and replacing the old vulnerable seawall is critical to public safety.

“Even a small earthquake could potentially cause damage,” said Murphy. “It could even be damaged in large coastal storms.”

The city shelled out millions of dollars to close businesses back in 2014, but some later reopened to find the project behind schedule.

“It’s not been easy to go through all of this,” said business owner Andy James.

Other store operators hope tourists will continue to visit Seattle’s waterfront and ignore the unsightly construction zone.

“We don’t have much choice but to do the best we can and let people know that it’s not really hard to get here and we’re all open for business,” James added.

A panel of experts will study the entire project to see if anything could have been done differently. The $200,000 price tag should be covered by parking taxes and real estate excise taxes.