EVERETT — The city is gearing up to build a project that, by some time in 2018, promises to give people an easy stroll down to the waterfront and up the bluff on the northwest edge of town.
More than a mere walkway with a view, Grand Avenue Park Bridge aims to replace aging stormwater and sewer pipes on the steep slope.
“Everybody I talk to at meetings, there’s a lot of enthusiasm about it,” said Andrea Tucker, a fixture in Everett’s historic preservation circles who used to walk the park daily.
One concern Tucker has heard was the prospect of people putting a pinch on street parking by driving to Grand Avenue Park to walk the bridge. She didn’t expect that to be a long-term problem.
“After the novelty wears off, it’ll just be a neighborhood amenity, I think,” she said.
City officials expect to start advertising for bids by the end of January, said Kathleen Baxter, a spokeswoman for the city Public Works Department. Construction is expected to begin this spring and finish in 2018.
It’s part of wider effort to rebuild the area’s sewer infrastructure. Combined stormwater and sewer systems have caused frequent basement flooding in northwest Everett and other older neighborhoods.
The pedestrian add-on promises better waterfront access. There’s no direct route from the park to the water short of a long, circuitous walk to the north or south. And that requires crossing five lanes of busy W Marine View Drive, which is part of Highway 529.
The future bridge will take people to and from the bluff near 16th Street over the BNSF Railway tracks and W Marine View Drive. A staircase and elevator would land on Port of Everett property on the west side of the street. From there, it’s a short walk to the Everett Marina and a new mixed-use Port project that broke ground this fall. Plans for Waterfront Place call for up to 660 apartments, condos or townhomes, as well as two hotels, several restaurants, a couple of parks and more. The redevelopment area covers 66 acres.
Underneath the bridge’s walkway, plans show four pipes: One for stormwater, a second for combined sewer and stormwater and a third for a sewer line. There also will be space for a future water main.
“We have the five P’s: the four pipes and people,” Jim Miller, the city’s engineering superintendent, told the City Council during a Dec. 14 presentation.
The project requires moving some power lines.
The city considers the bridge necessary because of the ongoing threat that landslides on the bluff pose to pipes.
“The reason for putting these on a bridge is that the bluffs in Everett tend to slough off and the railroad knows that very well and sometimes they blame us, because our pipe broke, and we say, ‘No, the bank broke first and that broke our pipe,’” Miller told the council.
Originally designed as a 20-foot-wide bridge, the city narrowed the width to 16 feet after costs came in higher than expected. That’s one of several factors, along with design and permitting questions, that pushed back the initial timeline for the project.
The bridge structure would be anodized steel, which would change color over time.
“It would not be painted,” Miller said. “It would be like a weathered steel.”
The project is budgeted at $16 million. Most of the cost is for utilities infrastructure. Of the $3.3 million needed to pay for the pedestrian walkway, $2 million is coming from a federal grant.
Barb Lamoureux is among those eagerly awaiting the results. Having sold real estate in the area for nearly 30 years, she’s excited about the shortcut between one of Everett’s most storied neighborhoods and the emerging landscape on the waterfront. The elevator, in particular, should make for an easy jaunt.
“We have a lot of walkers up here,” Lamoureux said, “so having that will be really awesome.”