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Seattle, Washington: Elliott Bay Seawall Project

City: Seattle
Country / US State / US Territory: Washington
Type of Solution: Seawall and Living Shorelines
Climate Impact: Seal Level Rise
Social Value Created: Diverse Transportation; Public Health and Safety; Active Living and Recreation

The City of Seattle recently finished replacing an aging seawall located in Elliot Bay in 2017 that was built between 1916 and 1934. Due to risk of failure during an earthquake, a new sea wall is being constructed with a 75 year lifespan. Under advisement from the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group (CIG), the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is constructing a seawall using the low-probability, high-impact estimate for sea level rise, i.e. the worst projected scenario for 2100. The seawall not only protects against sea level rise, inundation, and coastal erosion, but it also supports a diverse transportation network.

The sea wall supports a highway, a ferry terminal, rail lines, biking, and walking. A pedestrian promenade and a two-way cycle track are being constructed to improve walkability and bikeability. Additionally, the seawall is designed to improve and recreate a natural aquatic shoreline habitat, such as glass blocks in the sidewalk to allow light penetration to the water below and salmon migration pathways. The project also includes reconstruction of two public piers and construction of new parks and recreational pathways.

Sources: pegNielsen. (April 23, 2014). More than just a seawall habitat: Enhancing habitat in the Elliott Bay and preserving public safety (Blog post). Retrieved from http://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2014/04/23/more-than-just-a-seawall-enhancing-habitat-in-elliott-bay-and-preserving-public-safety/.

Seattle Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects. (n.d.). Seawall. Retrieved from https://waterfrontseattle.org/seawall.

The Adaptation Clearinghouse. (March 18, 2016). Seattle, Washington Department of Transportation (Seattle DOT) Elliott Bay Seawall Project. Retrieved from http://www.adaptationclearinghouse.org/resources/seattle-washington-department-of-transportation-seattle-dot-elliott-bay-seawall-project.html.