Mayor Ed Murray today announced the formation of a new office responsible for the planning and management of the capital projects included in the redevelopment of Seattle’s central waterfront, underscored his ongoing commitment to several partnerships critical to the redevelopment effort, and reiterated the City’s commitment to moving forward on the reconstruction of the Seawall.
Jared Smith, whose hire Murray announced in December, will serve as Program Director of the Office of the Waterfront. The Office will bring together under one management structure staff from the Seattle Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Development, the Seattle Parks Department, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light. The main divisions under the Office include:
- Urban Design, Partnerships & Public Engagement,
- Project Management, Project Delivery & Engineering,
- Programmatic/Special Projects,
- Partnership Agreements, and under the co-leadership of the Director of SDOT,
- Seawall Project
“The new Office of the Waterfront brings an unprecedented level of focus, expertise and commitment to reimagining what our central waterfront can be, and to the management and delivery of the complicated series of projects necessary to make that vision a reality,” said Mayor Murray. “This is a needed reform, it’s an overdue reform, and it’s a game-changing reform that will enable the City to deliver the program efficiently and effectively.”
Murray also announced his commitment to key partnerships on ongoing projects related to the overall City-led program, including:
- Pike Place Market’s site redevelopment,
- Seattle Aquarium’s expansion, and
- Washington Department of Transportation’s multi-modal terminal at Coleman Dock and the bored tunnel replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
“Coordination with partner organizations on existing projects already underway is critical,” said Murray.
Finally, facing questions about the tunnel boring machine known as Bertha and the impact that the machine’s stalled status may have on construction scheduled for the Seattle Seawall, Murray affirmatively stated that the project will go on.
“The Seawall needs to be replaced because it isn’t safe, and this public safety issue doesn’t disappear while the Seattle Tunnel Partners and WSDOT work to get Bertha moving again,” said Murray. “Each day of potential delay on Seawall reconstruction would represent another day of exposure to risk of damage from an earthquake. I cannot allow any increased risk to Seattle residents to occur on my watch, so we are moving forward.”
Murray said that, as the Seawall project moves into major construction, he is bringing aboard Ken Johnsen, who helped with project delivery of Safeco Field, City Hall and City of the Seattle’s Justice Center, as overall project manager for the Seawall, and Victor Oblas who also helped deliver Safeco Field and has been involved in other complex public infrastructure projects, as chief construction engineer.