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Seattle's Pier 58 won't reopen to the public after gap of 'several inches' discovered

Seattle’s Waterfront Park is closed after engineers found Pier 58 had shifted “several inches,” creating a visible gap between the pier and the land.

SEATTLE — The City of Seattle closed its downtown Waterfront Park last week after discovering Pier 58 had shifted, which left a gap of "several inches" between the pier and land.

The pier will not reopen until it is replaced, according to Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Jesús Aguirre.

The closure came after Seattle Parks and Recreation received a report about a waterline failure and possible shifting at Pier 58 between the Seattle Aquarium and Great Wheel on Aug. 5.

After having the pier appraised, the city said structural engineers found the "shift was substantial," and the pier had shifted several inches, the city said.

Waterfront Park between University and Pike streets was closed due to the findings.

"Over the past few days, it has become clear that natural forces have accelerated the closely monitored deterioration of Pier 58 ... Once onsite, staff confirmed that the pier had in fact shifted by several inches, creating a visible gap between the pier and the adjacent upland. The seawall itself is also regularly monitored and has not shifted; these two structures are engineered to be separate," the city said in a news release.

The pier was already being monitored. A report in 2011 and 2016 both found the best course of action was to replace the pier. Until that happened, city staff was told to keep a close eye on it. 

The pier was already in the process of being replaced as part of the waterfront redesign. Construction is expected to start in 2022 and wrap up in 2024.

Though Pier 58 was always going to be replaced, it will now have to be removed sooner than expected, according to city officials. 

Replacement of the pier is fully funded, according to city officials. 

Pier 58 is an aging piece of infrastructure long slated for a significant overhaul as part of the broader Waterfront Seattle Program, according to the city.

A replacement for Pier 58 was already being designed, with the removal of the existing pier and construction of a new public park pier planned for 2022.

“This shifting of the Pier has been an ongoing but manageable maintenance issue over time that has happened well within the bounds of public safety,” the city said.

The city said engineers and other experts are inspecting the pier to understand the extent of the shift and what options are available. It is unknown when the park will be reopened to the public.