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Sinkholes opening up in decaying Seattle waterfront

Seattle's waterfront is getting ready for a serious renovation with a new transit tunnel and surface beautification.  Just in time.

Seattle's seawall on the waterfront was built on mudflats.  The fill material supporting the viaduct and adjacent structures has been know to be unstable and likely to shift over time.  Small marine creature have been boring through the seawall for years, reducing its strength and affecting the subjacent support of the street and sidewalks along the waterfront piers. 

This week, a visitor to the waterfront fell into a sinkhole that opened up in the sidewalk.  As the man was walking neaar the pier in the early morning, the 4-inch sidewalk concrete gave way to an empty pocket formed by the shifting of soil fill.  Although the man was rescued right away, the incident could have been far worse. 

There will doubtless be engineering studies done ad nauseum before the new tunnel is built.  Seattle is known as a city that values process over results.  We vote 5 times before we do anything.  Let's hope that we get the best analysis possible, and we put that analysis to work quickly.  Our waterfront needs some work, and fast.

Seattle Waterfront Real Estate
  • May 21 2009 - Seattle
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Answers (6)

"Small marine creature have been boring through the seawall for years"

Reminds me of the 1990 Sci Fi movie 'Tremors' with the giant earthworms.

You best watch your step, Sam.

Tremors on IMDB.com
  • May 21 2009
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Has anyone heard about Greenwood sinking because of the new Safeway? My clients told me this.  
  • May 22 2009
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I know, Mike, the first time I heard that quote about the small marine creatures, it reminded me of a Star Trek movie.  Sadly, it's our dilapidated support structure.
  • May 22 2009
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Apparently the "sinking" in Greenwood is real, Cass.  Not sure if blaming it on the Safeway is really fair, since there have been a lot of constructions projects in the area.  The neighborhood is built on a peat bog, and recent projects have drained some of the subterranean water support of the bog.  It's been going on for a long time.

Greenwood sinking

  • May 22 2009
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I recall hearing the sinking of the Greenwood area up to Lichton Springs is due to the water table being dractically changed. Again recollection seems something about the underground springs being diverted etc and the land shrinking as a result.  Seems Sam has the better geographic details!
  • May 23 2009
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Damage to a home from sinkholes, considered "earth movement" under a homeowners insurance policy is excluded, as is earthquake, landslide (either on top of the home or out from underneath the home), volcano and avalanche.

Any person with damage caused by such incidents would immediatley be cancelled by your insurance company. Obtaining other coverage would be virtually impossible. (Every home app asks if you have ever been cancelled or nonrenewed and the answer must be no or sufficient reason given, such as "roof now fixed.")

These type of things are excluded under most policies because there is simply no way to build a statisical likelyhood of loss, such as 1 out of 1000 homes will suffer from sudden water damage resulting from a broken indoor pipe this year. Rates can be built on such data. For other things sush as flood, data is available but the stats are so bad no private company will write the coverage; only the Federal Gov., heavily supported by taxpayers.

There are separate separate policies available with limited coverage for some of these things, such as flood, earthquake or landslide coverage.

Thses type of things are a BIG deal and often result in condemenation of the property, so buyers beware - the home is only as good as the ground it is built on.
  • May 28 2009
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