Historic buildings, torn up streets, strolling pedestrians, and underground commerce. These combine to make the Port Townsend sidewalk project a dynamic one to say the least! Seemingly enjoying all the activity in this waterfront town pedestrians navigate through the two block project accessing local businesses.
What’s going on around here?
Port Townsend is replacing the deteriorating sidewalk lid.
What on earth is a Sidewalk lid?
It is structural concrete sidewalk that doubles as ceilings for underground (below-grade) areaways. Similar to tunnels, the areaways provide access to basement levels of historic buildings. While people walk above them at street level on the sidewalks.
Construction for this project is on a fast track, with completion scheduled in June to beat the arrival of tourist season. First the construction team needs to carefully remove the old sidewalk without damaging existing structures. Another part of the project was replacing and adding underground vaults and utilities (power, cable, tv, phone, etc). Geofoam was used as fill material to prevent lateral pressure against the historic building foundations that would occur using soil.
During the project Shea Carr Jewell’s own Scott Sawyer has made Port Townsend his home providing construction management for the City. With a “to do” list in every other pocket and a cell phone continually buzzing, Scott appears to be having a blast.
When asked, what is the best part of living in Port Townsend?
Scott says: “Port Townsend! I love it here. I could chalk it up to the small town charm, the Victorian architecture and historical allure, or the stunning vistas on a clear sunny day with deep blue water outlined by snowcapped mountains. I could patter on about the many cool shops or the delicious restaurants. I might even mention the super cool old-fashioned movie theater with the best popcorn in all of Washington. But the thing I love the most about Port Townsend is the people. I have developed a deep, emotional connection to the many downtown merchants smack-dab in the middle of the construction project. During design development, I told them what, when, where and how the construction would occur. They asked many questions and wondered out-loud how they would survive the inevitable drop off in business during construction. As a project team, we looked long and hard for ways to minimize the impacts and we made pledges to the merchants. Now I have the privilege and honor of delivering the goods. I feel a profound sense of duty to this band of merchants as I work with the contractor every day to tackle challenges big and small, always thinking how can we do this and help this business stay vibrant. Dropping in to say hi and ask a merchant how it’s going for them. It is incredibly difficult at times and the hours are very long, but it is easily the most rewarding thing I have ever down in my rich career. I am blessed and fortunate to be here.”
There’s a lot of coordination going on in this bustling town! Kudos to the citizens, businesses, shoppers and construction team for making the best of a fully involved construction site in historic downtown Port Townsend. To follow this ambitious project visit their blog.
- Chris and Charlie Gibson on Jim Gibson. Airboss.
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