Seven years of seawall construction kicked off in November along Seattle’s waterfront. Sure, there’s the outcry from local businesses—not saying it isn’t without merit, though—regarding the Memorial Day to Labor Day shutdown of the area, but this project to rebuild the Elliott Bay seawall serves as part of plenty of major waterfront-area projects on tap, including ripping out the Alaskan Way Viaduct after the fancy new tunnel opens and completely overhauling the waterfront district.

As with most mega-projects, the first turning of dirt doesn’t bring the most exciting part of the project. Well, unless you count building a temporary roadway to help with detour traffic a super exciting project. I don’t.

But it does signify the start of work on a slew of landscape-changing and culture-shifting work, even if it is starting with spending $350 million to replace a crumbling seawall. Traffic will shift to the temporary roadway—eliminating parking in the process—under the current viaduct to give room for crews to start the seawall project.

Phase One of the seawall project will wrap up by 2016 and Seattle is searching for federal funding to help finish Phase 2 shortly thereafter.

2016 brings plenty more excitement. If all goes well with the tunnel boring, the viaduct will come down then and work to rebuild the waterfront will commence.


Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for TIMEPopular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.