Seattle officials ordered the closure of Pier 57 on the downtown waterfront Friday, citing concerns that a second sudden collapse of nearby Pier 58 could put people in danger.
Pier 57 is privately owned and houses the Miner’s Landing tourist shopping center, along with the Great Wheel attraction. It’s located directly next to Pier 58, a city-owned structure that partly collapsed last Sunday during demolition work.
It was a near-miracle that no one was seriously injured or killed when a massive chunk of Pier 58, also known as Waterfront Park, plunged into Elliott Bay. Two members of a crew working to take apart the deteriorated pier were tossed into the water but escaped with minor injuries.
Though Piers 57 and 58 aren’t structurally connected, the concrete and wood from a falling Pier 58 could damage the Miner’s Landing tourist walkway or Pier 57’s northern in-water columns.
Last weekend’s collapse occurred at the north end of Pier 58, close to Pier 59, where the Seattle Aquarium is located. Trees, concrete planters, a concrete terrace and a bronze fountain crashed down when the steel-encased concrete piles holding up that section of the pier gave way. The piles had been corroding for years.
No damage to Pier 59 has been reported and the aquarium has remained open. No damage to Pier 57 has been reported, either. But a new inspection conducted by the city’s structural engineering consultant, Seattle Structural, has determined a concrete section at the south end of Pier 58 is now at risk of collapsing, too.
That could endanger people on Pier 57, Nathan Torgelson, director of the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI), said in a news release Friday.
“If a spontaneous collapse of Pier 58 were to occur, it could present an imminent hazard to the adjacent Pier 57. As a precaution, we have posted a red-tag on Pier 57 which will prevent access and operations on the pier until further notice,” Torgelson’s statement said.
Besides the nearness of the two piers, another damage risk involves a broad wooden ramp between them, where formerly luncheoners walked and supply carts were rolled down from street level to the Waterfront Park amphitheater area. Some utilities serving Pier 57 are also nearby.
State and federal workplace safety inspectors have opened investigations into the Sept. 13 collapse at Pier 58. The city’s demolition contractor is preparing to restart work there next week, according to Friday’s release.
The city has long planned to remove and replace Pier 58, built in 1974 in anticipation of the U.S. bicentennial. The city accelerated that demolition last month after the pier began separating from the Elliott Bay Seawall.
“We support SDCI in taking this necessary action and will continue to work with waterfront partners and businesses to both protect public safety and minimize impacts,” said Marshall Foster, director of the Seattle Office of the Waterfront, which is managing the Pier 58 project.