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Bertha's delays prove to be blessing for some waterfront projects

Bertha’s 29-month delay in completing the Highway 99 tunnel is turning out to be a blessing in disguise for some waterfront projects. Managers have been using the time to fine tune plans and be ready to start construction as soon as the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished something in early 2019. KOMO photo.

SEATTLE - When Art Stone moved Honest Biscuits from deep inside Pike Market to the market’s brand-new MarketFront Pavilion, he knew it would be years before he saw the big payoff.

The MarketFront just opened right next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which blocks easy access to the waterfront.

“We get asked all the time ‘How do you get down to the waterfront?’ and we have to tell them go here, then there, then down and elevator,” Stone says.

When the viaduct is demolished in early 2019, Overlook Walk connecting the waterfront directly to the market will be built. Once it's completed, pedestrians will walk into the market right by his place.

“They call this the MarketFront Building because they anticipate this being the entry way for people coming up from the waterfront," Stone says.

Bertha’s 29-month delay in completing the Highway 99 tunnel is turning out to be a blessing in disguise for some waterfront projects. Managers have been using the time to fine tune plans and be ready to start construction as soon as the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished sometime in early 2019.

“Literally, right after that viaduct comes down you'll see another phase of construction with the completion of the vision," said Marshall Foster, Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront Director.

That includes a rebuilt Elliott Bay Seawall, which is nearing completion, new roads, and 20 acres of improved public space that includes a promenade, bike paths, and a floating pier.

On Thursday, a Seattle City Council committee approved a memorandum of understanding with the Washington Department of Transportation to rebuild the roadways where the viaduct now stands. The state would fund $153 million of the construction and the city would build the roads.

Also Thursday, the Seattle Aquarium released new renderings of its 50,000-square-foot addition called the Ocean Pavilion that will now be completed in 2023, a date pushed back by Bertha’s delays.

“The question we get from people coming to the front desk is, 'Where are the sharks?' " says Bob Davidson, President and CEO of the Seattle Aquarium. “The sharks will be here.”

Davidson says the delays have given his planners more time to create a better expansion of the Aquarium.

“I think what emerges from this is going to be better as a result of the time that we've had and the thinking that we've done and the input that we've gotten from others," Davidson says.

Construction for these projects is nearly two years away, but Foster says it’s getting down to crunch time.

“We are definitely past the sort of concept and moving into real design, moving into construction," Foster says.

For Stone and his Honest Biscuits, that’s the payoff he’s hoping will bring him allot of dough.

“It can't happen soon enough for me,” Stone says.


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