Is this the cherry on top of Seattles 2020 catastrophe shit sundae?.
Is this the cherry on top of Seattle's 2020 catastrophe shit sundae? COURTESY @STREETPHOTOJOURNALISM

While everyone who could be was squirreled away inside their smoke-proof (smoke-resistant?) hovels yesterday afternoon, workers addressed the rapid deterioration of Pier 58 on the Waterfront. At around 4 p.m., between a fifth and a quarter of the pier, according to the Seattle Times, collapsed and careened into Elliot Bay.

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Pier 58 kisses the Seattle Aquarium and the Great Wheel. Some Stranger writers worried the dark waters of Elliot Bay could claim the Wheel if a collapse occurred, but an engineer assured us such an event was unlikely. While around 15,000-square-feet of concrete tumbled into the water, the Great Wheel wasn't in the mix. It still stands tall.

Two workers, however, fell into the bay during the collapse. They survived and were transported to Harborview Medical Center. One was discharged, the other remains in satisfactory condition.

This morning Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who represents the district where Pier 58 is located, offered a few remarks on the wreckage.

"I'm grateful to know there was no serious injury," Lewis said, "but I do want to address that we had city contractors doing city work in air that was hazardous."

Due to wildfire smoke, Seattle's air is—to put it bluntly—not good. The Environmental Protection Agency's air quality index goes from 0 to 500, and the city's air has remained in the "hazardous" category for several days now. Lewis said the air quality was at 309 while he was speaking this morning.

Throughout this weekend of smoke, outdoor workers continued to labor. Lewis said that this is something "we certainly need to address... as a city." He believes the city needs to develop a wildfire response plan similar to the snow response plan already in place since "there’s no indication [bad fire seasons] will stop given the reality of global climate change," Lewis said. Add it to the growing pile of catastrophes the city is facing, I guess!

Back in August, the city banned heavy loads and large groups from the pier in response to recommendations from an evaluation conducted by Seattle Structural in 2016, The Stranger reported. In the weeks since, "natural forces" accelerated the deterioration. The pier moved several inches away from land and workers worried about the structural integrity of individual timber piles. Heading into this past weekend, the situation worsened.

Orion Marine Contractors, the company contracted by the city to address the project, stepped in to remove part of the pier that could exacerbate a collapse, according to the Seattle Times. That included a 4-ton bronze fountain surrounded by concrete planters.

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Councilmember Debora Juarez, who chairs the public assets and native communities committee, commended Orion Marine Contractors for "layers of monitoring and safety protocols" that helped save the two workers who fell into the water.

According to Juarez, the 15,000 pounds of concrete, including the bronze fountain, sank and "still need to be extracted in the coming days." Oh, to be a 4-ton bronze fountain staring up at Seattle from the bottom of Elliot Bay.

Juarez said she'll have updates on the "next steps" for Pier 58 later this week. In the meantime, the waterfront will remain closed to the public. No pier-hole spelunking for any of you!

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