What lies beneath: Alki Pump Station, as project completion nears

On Boardasked in the WSB Forums the other day what’s up with the Alki Pump Station project – since the most recent projected completion date — this month — is about to pass. We checked with King County Wastewater Treatment Division and renewed our request for project photos, too – resulting in the photos in this story, which are all courtesy of the county – these are the new pumps:

Now, the status: The contractor and the county are still “going down a long ‘punch list’,” according to KCWT spokesperson Martha Tuttle. The county insists there have been no particular setbacks that have stretched out the underground pump-station expansion project months longer than the original projection, and Tuttle says they’re frustrated too. There have been a few speedbumps, including the need to build an underground “wall” around some pipes, not an original part of the plan. But otherwise, what they’re doing now is making sure, item by item, that everything works:

The hope is that once the equipment’s moved away and the barriers come down, they don’t have to go back to have anything re-done. They’re not announcing a new estimated date, either – we said, can you say whether it’s more like weeks or months? Weeks more likely than months, but that’s as specific as they’ll get; they’ve put together an official update flyer which says work on pavement restoration – new sidewalks, etc. – will continue into January.

16 Replies to "What lies beneath: Alki Pump Station, as project completion nears"

  • Michael December 29, 2009 (4:42 pm)

    Any reporter-type digging on what these “unknown” delays will cost us?

    • WSB December 29, 2009 (4:55 pm)

      Inquiring. Will also root around in the budget docs.

  • jeannie December 29, 2009 (5:09 pm)

    Thanks. Good point, Michael, about the cost of these delays. And, WSB, I love the “What Lies Beneath” headline. Now, if only West Seattle’s other notorious (W)hole (Foods) mystery could be resolved!

    • WSB December 29, 2009 (5:17 pm)

      I am continuing to follow the court documents in that one (as well as checking from time to time with key contacts). The case proceeds bit by bit by bit; another hearing is coming up next month on one small fragment of the case. In a nutshell, various parties are arguing over whose claim takes precedence over whose, so that when there is some money somewhere in the whole mess, it’s clear who gets paid first. I may get to write an update before this semi-slow week is done.

  • on board December 29, 2009 (5:21 pm)

    Thank you very much for following up on this!

    It will remain to be seen if they will do anything to reopen the pedestrian access through the worksite. It also remains to be seen if they will commit to returning the path to the original condition prior to the project. Many times after projects, they just throw down some black asphalt patch which will not be the same high quality as the rest of the smooth path.

    Closing the path off has resulted in a lot of people taking unnecessary risk by skating, biking, walking in and out of vehicle traffic in an unpredictable manner.

  • Babs December 29, 2009 (5:22 pm)

    Thank goodness these folks are NOT building the new viaduct or it would not open until 2050. I’m soooooo tired of this project blocking the sidewalk. I ride my bike year around and have had a couple close calls crossing over and then back over.

  • Dan\'a December 29, 2009 (5:37 pm)

    I had a really really scary close call there! I was going very slowly, thank goodness, when a child on a bike much lower than the barrier wall popped out into the cross walk. Scared us both!
    I am so glad this is near completion.

  • David December 29, 2009 (7:10 pm)

    Any idea if they’ll also replace the mileage marker (3/4) when they put the new sidewalk in?

  • Alki Area December 30, 2009 (7:53 am)

    I hear what you’re saying Babs (delays in projects) but that always gets my dander up as an engineer. Non-engineer seem to think projects are planned by GODS or using MAGIC. They’re not. When you plan to tunnel through a mountain for example, you make the BEST scientific educated guess about the conditions and costs involved, and go. That’s it. I’m SORRY folks, there is NO MAGIC involved, no god is called upon to mystically reveal all roadblocks ahead. Sometimes projects go over because of human screw ups (WHAT humans aren’t perfect) but most often it’s because of conditions you just can’t GUARANTEE like a streak of bad weather, supply problems in getting parts you need, cost of raw materials goes up more than expected (re: run on concrete or cooper). You always budget in some give for extra costs and time, all projects do. But this ain’t magic, it’s a GUESS. You NEVER know what you’re run into until you actually go forward. You can tunnel in your mountain only to fine a large granite formation that no one knew about and didn’t show up in ‘random’ sampling. It happens. Or you have stuff like Brightwater water plant in Woodinville, where the NIMBY folks batted this thing back and forth until it got further and further and further away from where it was SHOULD have been located and ended up being years behind and way too expensive because no one wanted it “near them”. Then they had a tunneling machine break (can’t predict that). Stuff happens. Politics, weather, breaking parts, raw costs, etc, etc. Hitting a project time/cost point is always half smart planning and half dumb luck.

  • Don December 30, 2009 (8:37 am)

    Where did they hide the milk stools? Because it seems like they have been milking it!

  • on board December 30, 2009 (9:53 am)

    It is true that projects go over budget and time for many reasons, and time estimates are hard to get perfect. This project however has taken what looks to be two full years to complete. TWO YEARS! That is more time than the entire Spokane Street viaduct rebuild I believe. I think SAFECO and QWEST Field took about that long once the groundbreaking began. I find it hard to believe that a different crew than King County could not have gotten this accomplished in half the time.

  • alki_2008 December 30, 2009 (4:06 pm)

    Hhmmm. Maybe if the public wasn’t constantly wanting updates and pictures and other information…then the project managers could actually work on the project. It’s a pump project…for goodness sake. Do we really need to know ‘how things are going’ thoughout the process, instead of just waiting until the end-date and THEN asking? It seems like people have been questioning this project even BEFORE the projected completion date. What a pain in the …

  • Been here a long time December 30, 2009 (6:19 pm)

    For years we have crammed more and more condos on the beach front and there have been NO improvement to the sewer or water system. Would people really want to keep building and NOT have this project? Then instead of having the inconvenience of a blocked sidewalk, we can all have a blocked and over flowing sewer. That could have been the “sweet” smell of Alki. I don’t care how long it takes. I am glad it’s happening. Take a little time and do it right the first time. I really don’t want raw sewage on the beach my grandkids play on.

  • M. December 31, 2009 (12:31 am)

    I just wish to thank those for the difficult work in what appears to be cramped quarters. Not an easy task, good luck with the final inspections!

  • Trevor F. Smith December 31, 2009 (10:08 am)

    I’m glad that this project is happening but I’m also glad that the WSB is on the ball. Thanks for the update.

  • HOHOHO January 3, 2010 (4:59 am)

    Before you get all excited about these pumps, be forewarned, these things make noise. They ususally run ’em 24/7. You most likely will here a vibrating variation of tones night and day! They are here in CA and are a great irritaion! These engineers have not perfected their contraptions!!! Beware!

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