Comment time for $2.3 million seawall replacement along Beach Drive

That 475-foot stretch of seawall at Emma Schmitz Overlook along Beach Drive is set for replacement in the next few years – but the city and federal agencies working on it are looking for public comment right now. Beach Drive Blog has been following the plans for the project, and this morning, the official news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has arrived:

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.

Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.

In 1998, the City of Seattle was prompted to take emergency action to stabilize the shoreline to the north of the proposed federal project when storm waves resulted in the failure of a similar section of existing seawall and subsequent erosion of shoreline protection that threatened utilities, roadways, and public lands. The city completed permanent emergency repairs on this adjacent site which is not included in the scope of the proposed Federal project.

The recommended plan was chosen because it has the least environmental impact, was the least cost alternative and meets all project purposes. It includes construction of a soldier pile wall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. Coordination with resource agencies and federal tribes is ongoing and preliminary indications expect a concurrence with the project.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be $2.29 million and will be cost-shared with 65 percent federal ($1,488,000) funds and 35 percent non-federal ($801,000) funds. The non-federal sponsor, Seattle Parks and Recreation, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor. Economic analysis suggests the project could prevent millions of dollars of physical and non-physical damages, resulting on a positive benefit-cost ratio.

Submit comments to this office, Attn: Environmental and Cultural Resources Branch, no later than December 31, 2014 to ensure consideration. In addition to sending comments via mail, comments may be e-mailed to The Notice of Availability and Detailed Project Report/Environmental Assessment can be found at (this) website.

Requests for additional information should be directed to Ms. Melissa Leslie at 206-764-6587, or the above e-mail address.

The two documents mentioned above are the first two on the website the announcement points you to; both include “Alki” in the name, though they are on the west-facing Beach Drive shore.

5 Replies to "Comment time for $2.3 million seawall replacement along Beach Drive"

  • old timer December 19, 2014 (10:48 am)

    They say that construction would occur during the low tide dry periods, but the project is scheduled for the October 2016 thru February 2017 timeframe – just when we get our winter storms.
    It would be great to have the project completed in time for the summer season, but could the weather have impacts?
    I had no idea that sewer pipe was so close to the ‘edge’,
    and, IMO, even a cursory inspection of the site reveals the need for this to go forward.

  • John December 19, 2014 (11:54 am)

    I thought “soldier pile seawalls” were discouraged because of environmental and sea health concerns?

    Why not relocate the utilities and restore the shore like we are doing and have done downtown?

  • NW December 19, 2014 (5:59 pm)

    I believe the current sea wall the cement and iron was trolley track that was used throughout the area in the early part of the last century. When the sea wall to the north was replaced in the late 90s the contractor at the time gave me the majority of the iron trolley track and I hauled most of it to Seattle Iron and Metal when it was on Harbor Island and sold it to them.

  • leslie December 20, 2014 (1:45 pm)

    I agree with John. Relocating the utilities, removing the armoring and restoring the shoreline with rock cobbles and native plants. Rather than hard engineering, please work with Green Shorelines right here in Seattle. They have plans that parallel those recommended by Seattle Dept of Ecology and King County to provide alternatives to bulkheads and shoreline armoring. That would not only help the aesthetics at Emma Schmitz/Me Kwa Mooks, but more/most importantly provide needed habitat for the salmon and other marine critters!

  • jana layman December 28, 2014 (12:50 pm)

    I wanted to share something that may or may not be true. There was an older lady who lived across from the park who has since passed away and she always said that the land over there- the grassy strip on the south end of the park was part of an “ancient indian burial site”. As a resident of the 4800 block of Beach Dr. SW, I have over the years wondered if there was any merit to her claims. But also, over the years, I and another neighbor have found actual native american artifacts made most likely from clay. This is just down from this park by about 3 blocks south. So knowing this, I would hope that they would take precautions while they are building since it may indeed have artifacts under the layers of dirt there. Last year I took our artifacts in to the Museum of History and Industry and they confirmed that what we had found were indeed real artifacts, grinding stones, weights, chisels for taking the bark off of the cedar trees etc., they took photos of them and wrote down our address and approximate location where they were found on the beach.

    Another thing that is important to consider is the beautiful hillside of flower tufts (flowers called- Victor Reiter Sea Thrift aka Armeria maritima ‘Victor Reiter’) that cover the hillside and give this feeling of a secret sea-side garden. I hope they will incorporate them into the new plan for the sea wall. My family as well as everyone who loves this place treasures this spot for it’s privacy and beauty when the flowers are in bloom offering little flowery seats to visitors. The way the gravel path is just below the upper sidewalk also adds to the feeling of privacy, I hope they would incorporate that into the new plans. I would hate to see this place lose the charm it has had for so long. I have been going there my whole life, love it so I hope they don’t change it too drastically!

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