Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stormwater project: operational at last

It must have been with a gigantic sigh of relief that Madison Valley merchants learned yesterday that Phase II construction of the seemingly never-ending Madison Valley Stormwater Project is now officially complete. An email from the Seattle Department of Public Utilities (SPU) on Monday reported that the project is now operational and the related improvements to the stormwater drainage system along E. Madison Street are also in place. Construction ended last week.

The project, which began in the winter of 2009, has been a long, drawn-out affair--one that has been much more disruptive to the area than local merchants say they were led to believe before construction got underway.  Indeed, Phase II of the project is actually still not completed, since there will be additional work in the spring of 2012 to create landscaping at Washington Park in the area of the new 2.2 million gallon stormwater tank. That work had been scheduled for completion this year, but delays in construction of the pipeline meant it was too late in the season for landscaping work to be practical.  The decision was made by SPU not to work during the holiday season in order to leave Madison Street free from all construction-related activity. 

That decision is just fine with the merchants along Madison Street, for which the two-plus years of construction have been something of an endurance test.  The lack of parking and the disruption to traffic along Madison have definitely resulted in economic hardship for several of the businesses in Madison Valley. According to SPU spokesperson Elaine Yeung, Madison Street should not see much impact during the landscaping phase of the project next spring.  She estimates that the work cannot get underway until at least April, and even then bad weather could cause further delays.  It will take several weeks to carry out the landscaping scheme, including at least two weeks of dry weather, she told us.

Workers are currently securing the site for winter, according to Yeung, but there should be no further activity in the area for the next four months.  Restoration work at Washington Park will include repairs to at least some of the sidewalk along the north side of E. Madison Street, she noted.  At this point it is not known if any of the sidewalk, other than that at the entrance to the construction site, will be replaced; but the Parks Department has apparently requested that this happen.  

The rock facing on the watertank has been installed, though a close-up view will not be possible until next year.  This is what it should look like when the landscaping and railing have been installed:

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