EVERETT — By spring 2019, it might be an easy stroll from Grand Avenue to the Everett waterfront.
Construction started in September on a 257-foot-long pedestrian bridge. It will link Grand Avenue Park and the Northwest neighborhood to Port of Everett property on W. Marine View Drive. That area, historically reserved for industry and recreation, is seeing an increase in shops and restaurants.
Someday, there could be hundreds of apartments a few blocks away, as part of the Waterfront Place development.
People have been asking for better access between those two parts of Everett for decades, said Heather Griffin, the project manager for the city.
“It’s quite the effort to walk down there now. It’d take you about an hour,” said Josh Frizzell, a supervisor for the contractor, Interwest Construction.
The work isn’t all about having a nice footpath though. One level of the bridge is for pedestrians; the other is for utility lines. The total cost is estimated at $19.3 million, including $2 million in federal grants. It ties into ongoing utility improvements.
The city for years has been replacing aging sewer pipes on the north end of town. The old system was designed to combine sewer with stormwater, which led to flooded basements after rainstorms in years past. Earlier work addressed those issues upstream, Griffin said.
The system also has been vulnerable to bluff erosion. By bringing the lines out of the hillside, they should be easier to inspect and maintain, she said.
The bridge will require more than a million pounds of steel, said Kathleen Baxter, a spokeswoman with Everett public works. The construction timeline is dependent on the weather and the needs of the railroad, which has five tracks running within the project’s boundaries.
Crews so far have been pouring concrete, including the foundation for the bridge on the west side. Last week, they were preparing a 65-foot-long rebar cage for a piece of the underground support system. In early February, they expect to install piping 25 feet below ground on the east side. Work also is planned to stabilize the slope between the park and the railroad tracks.
The bridge is designed to be wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, and to protect views along Grand Avenue, in one of Everett’s tonier stretches. Renderings show colorful lights and other artistic elements, with themes complementary to the park and Waterfront Place.
The project marks a “crucial investment” for the waterfront, said Terrie Battuello, the port’s chief of business development. The views should be “incredible,” she said.