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Waterfront Seattle Program | Construction closure of Alaskan Way at Pine St and progress update at Pier 58

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Editor’s Note: This is a blog post from the Waterfront Seattle Program. The Waterfront Seattle Program is led by the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, working closely with other City departments, external partners, civic leaders, stakeholders, and the broader Seattle public to create a “Waterfront for All.”

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Closing Alaskan Way at Pine St

An aerial photograph showing current construction areas and future project features. Large buildings are in the background.
Aerial view of project area. Photo courtesy of Tim Rice

Over the summer, Waterfront Seattle began construction of a new, elevated and realigned connection of Alaskan Way near Pine St (shown in pink on the graphic above). On the east, this new connection intersects Alaskan and Elliott ways at a “T” intersection. To the west, it connects to Alaskan Way north of Pine St.

Starting as early as Tuesday, October 31, the existing temporary one-lane Alaskan Way connection between Union and Pine streets, and next to the Aquarium at Pier 59, will close for construction of the new connection and pedestrian space (shown in orange on the graphic above). Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained. The Alaskan Way–Elliott Way corridor will remain open at all times, with periodic lane closures as needed. 

Since May 1, Alaskan Way has been closed frequently at Pine St for construction of the Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion Project. Now that the 2023 cruise ship season is complete, this closure will be in place 24-hours a day through spring 2024. This work has always been planned to be performed during the fall and winter seasons, which tend to have lower traffic volumes, to minimize travel impacts. We anticipate the new multimodal Alaskan Way connection for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles will be completed in spring 2024, ahead of the busier, high-traffic summer months along the waterfront.

A construction site with large buildings above on a cloudy day.
View looking east at new Alaskan Way connection (upper right), under construction. Pine St is below (left).
View looking down a construction site toward a large body of water on a cloudy day. Several large orange barrels and construction workers are visible.
A view of the new Alaskan Way connection looking west, where it will tie into the existing Alaskan Way north of Pine St at a “T” intersection.
Aerial photo of construction taking place in a dense city area. Large buildings are visible throughout.
Aerial view of construction of the new connection in late-October. Photo courtesy of Tim Rice.

How to get around during the closure

For people driving to the waterfront, access on Alaskan and Elliott ways will be maintained from Pioneer Square to Belltown. For people looking for local access to locations on Alaskan Way between Pine and Wall streets, access will be maintained from the north. Near Virginia St, a U-turn is in place to maintain northbound and southbound access. Pedestrian and bicycle access on the west side of Alaskan Way will be maintained at all times via the multi-use path.

What’s coming next

This new connection plays an important role in the new Waterfront Park. It is the last remaining piece of new street to be constructed along the waterfront as part of the program. The connection will include one lane in each direction for vehicle traffic, a two-way protected bike lane on the south side, and a sidewalk on the north side. This will provide a connection for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers between Alaskan and Elliott ways. The “T” intersection will be signalized for all modes of travel.

On the west side, it will connect bicyclists to a future protected bike lane being implemented by the Alaskan Way Safety Project.

The existing section of Alaskan Way, west of the Overlook Walk between Pike St and Pier 62, will be transformed into a Park Promenade, expanding the pedestrian centered spaces under construction directly to the south.

Artistic rendering of a future completed project with connections up and down a large cityscape. Large buildings, trees, and small people are visible.
Aerial rendering of the final road configuration. Credit: City of Seattle and Field Operations.

The new Alaskan Way connection will be the final piece of the new street along the waterfront to be constructed by Waterfront Seattle, and is essential in creating continuous pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle connections along the waterfront.

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Waterfront Park’s new Pier 58: A pier, a park, a playground – made possible by pile driving work that’s now complete

Since September 2022, the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects has been hard at work constructing the new Pier 58 over Elliott Bay at Union St, just south of the Seattle Aquarium and north of Miner’s Landing.

76 piles were installed last fall and winter, avoiding the season of juvenile salmon migration. You may also have noticed approximately half of the pile caps and deck panels have been installed on those piles, as well as foundations for the future reinstallation of the Fitzgerald Fountain and planned lighting fixtures. 

Photo of construction along water near sunset. Large buildings are in the background and middle of the image. A small boat is in the middle in the water.
View of Pier 58 piles as the sun sets.

The project has now finished driving all of the piles needed for the new pier

If you live or work near the pier, you likely saw a lot of activity during the pile driving that took place last year and over the past month, via large barges, cranes and steel piles. Removing and rebuilding a new pier takes multiple years and much of the foundational work installed during the early years of construction ultimately gets hidden by the new overwater pier deck. Visible changes and additions will continue as the future pier and playground forms over the coming months.

What is pile driving?

During pile driving, steel columns were forcefully impacted into the ground by a technique aptly named “impact driving.” The impact required to drive these piles into the ground is part of what develops the strength and stability of the pier for years to come. It’s much like hammering a wood stake into the ground. The deeper you can drive it into solid ground, the better it holds. We would like to thank our local community for your patience as we worked as quickly as possible to complete our pile driving efforts – this has been noisy but necessary work.

We limited the duration and quantity of impacts that can be made in a day and used a bubble curtain around the piles to reduce their effect on the nearby environment. We carefully monitored water quality and vibration levels throughout this work.

This type of in-water work is only allowed during a seasonal period expected to provide the least impact to marine life, called the “fish window.” This period is from September 15 to February 15.

Image of pile installation at a large body of water on a sunny day. Work crews and a large crane are in the background.
Pile being installed for Pier 58 in October 2023.

Sequencing work

The graphic below details the steps to build this new pier.

Infographic showing the steps of construction at Pier 58. Support columns are below, with features on the top of the deck slab.
Infographic detailing the steps of construction at Pier 58.

We’ve completed steps 1 through 3 for a portion of the pier and can now move onto steps 4-5 while we finish the pier’s foundation above the recently installed piles.

The timelapse video linked below provides a glimpse of how pile caps are installed. Pile caps help distribute the load on the pier.

Aerial photo of a large ferris wheel, buildings, barges, and construction near a large body of water.
Aerial view of Pier 58 looking south and the status of construction as of early October. Approximately half of the deck has already been installed.

What will Pier 58 look like when it’s done?

After it’s completed in early 2025, the new Pier 58 will offer a variety of new amenities to people living, working, or visiting the waterfront. From a playground to a plaza for pop-up movie nights, concerts, and other event programming, and a shaded area with plenty of seating and space to enjoy the views of Elliott Bay, Pier 58 will have something for everyone.

An artist's rendering of a future public park near a body of water. Large trees and small icons of people are in the image.
Rendering of what Pier 58 will look like in the future.

A brand-new play area

Inspired by our jellyfish neighbors, we’ll be building a brand-new climbing structure. With swinging features and a slide with rolling tentacles, this playground will have activities for people of all ages.

Spaces to enjoy Elliott Bay

In addition to the play structures, we will plant a new grove of trees to provide shade on the pier. An elevated lawn and plaza will allow for a wide variety of events. We expect the pier to draw people from near and far and offer a unique place for people to relax and play right in the heart of the City’s new Waterfront Park.

To learn more: