Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city was aware of the "growing emergency" around the pier and its likelihood of collapsing

By Joelle Goldstein
September 14, 2020 02:10 PM
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Two people were injured on Sunday after Pier 58, a Seattle landmark, partially collapsed as construction workers were in the process of dismantling the structure.

Waterfront Seattle, the downtown area that is home to Pier 58, confirmed the incident in a statement on its website, explaining that the collapse occurred nearly nine days after removal efforts began.

"During active pier removal on Sept. 13, 2020, the northeast corner of Pier 58 collapsed," the organization said. "We were in the process of removing a concrete section of the pier to delay further pier movement and deterioration."

According to the Seattle Fire Department (SFD), which responded to the incident, the partial collapse unfolded around 4 p.m. local time. In a separate Facebook post, SFD officials said two construction workers fell into the water as a result of the collapse.

The two workers — whom The Seattle Times said were 30 and 42 years ago — were able to get out of Elliott Bay before SFD arrived to help, according to fire officials.

They were later transported to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition, SFD said. One has reportedly been discharged while the other remains in the hospital in "satisfactory condition," according to The Seattle Times.

Seattle Pier 58 collapse
Seattle Fire Department/Twitter

Marshall Foster, the director of the Seattle Office of Waterfront and Civic Projects, said during a press conference that a total of 12 people were working on-site and three others were on the pier at the time of the collapse, CNN reported. No other injuries were reported, according to The Seattle Times.

Waterfront Park was built in 1974 as a public park, according to The Seattle Times. It is located near several Seattle attractions — including Pike Place Market, the Seattle Great Wheel and the aquarium — and is home to the four-ton FitzGerald Fountain, CNN reported.

In recent years, officials have grown weary of the structure and the dangers it posed, with Foster telling The Seattle Times that they "knew that the pier was shifting and that there was a risk of collapse, and so a series of additional safety precautions were taken."

Foster also noted how the marine environment "is just brutal on these structures," and that the weight of the fountain was not adequately supported, as the pillars had disconnected and it was likely to cause issues of collapsing, CNN reported.

Mayor Jenny Durkan also confirmed that the city was aware of the "growing emergency" around the pier in a statement on her Twitter.

"In early August, we increased monitoring of Pier 58 and took urgent action to address this growing emergency. On Friday, we took additional safety measures and began accelerating the removal after the City noticed continued deterioration," she wrote.

"I am deeply grateful to the first responders who arrived swiftly to ensure their safety," Durkan said, before adding in a separate tweet, "This year continues to present immense and unprecedented challenges for us as a city. In the coming days, we will evaluate Pier 58 to determine appropriate next steps and potential broader impacts."

According to Waterfront Seattle, removal efforts on Pier 58 began "in response to recent movement and continued deterioration of the structure."

The project, which includes the removal of "as much of the pier deck, piles and structures as necessary to ensure the site is safe," is expected to be complete by 2021, according to Waterfront Seattle.

"The work will include salvaging furniture, art and the existing fountain, removing concrete structures, timber decking and framing, and the extraction of piles supporting the structure," their site reads. "Removal of the pier will largely occur from the waterside, with barges positioned west of the structure. Because of the waterside access, impacts to nearby businesses and the public are expected to be limited."

Demolition efforts will continue, though methods are expected to change and workers will now have to spend time pulling pieces of the pier from the water — something that will contribute to the complexity of the $4.3 million project, according to The Seattle Times.

"It’s as important as ever, if not more, to remove the remainder of the pier now that this has happened," Foster said, the outlet reported.