City closes entire stairway at Eagle Landing Park due to erosion


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Photos courtesy City of Burien.

The City of Burien announced Friday afternoon (Dec. 12) that the entire stairway at Eagle Landing Park is now closed to the public, due to a “significant erosion event.”

There is currently no beach access, and the stairs are sealed off at the top entry point.

As we reported on Wednesday (Dec. 10), the lower section of the stairs were first closed due to “erosion.” Some neighbors of the park though say the cause is more likely due to stormwater runoff that starts near the parking lot, then seeps down through the park than “wave action” from recent storms as the city claims.

“Upon further evaluation of the stairs and adjacent slope conditions, the City Engineer has recommended the closure of the entire length of the stairs,” the city said in a statement. “While the park and its surface trail remains open, the public is asked not to go past the closure at the top of the stairs.”

Here’s more from the city:

It was learned recently that a significant erosion event occurred at the toe of the slope in Eagle Landing Park, most likely as a result of the storm which coincided with an extreme high tide the weekend of Nov. 29-30. It is believed that this recent event contributed to the beach erosion that resulted in a citizen report that there was a problem with the stairs. City staff responded immediately to assess the situation. That assessment led to a decision to close the lower section of stairs. The beach erosion which has steadily eroded the toe of the slope over several years appears now to have caused in shift in the piers which support the stair landings. Upon further evaluation of the stairs and adjacent slope conditions on Friday, December 12, the City Engineer recommended the closure of the entire length of the stairs. While the park and its surface trail remains open, the public is asked not to go past the closure at the top of the stairs.

As was reported at the time, this storm event significantly affected the area, in particular the wave action and damage caused to the boardwalk in Des Moines which also threatened homes in the nearby Three Tree Point area. A similar storm destroyed a beachfront home there in 2010. Wave action resulting from storms and high tides, and occasionally and most dangerously the combination of the two, has significantly impacted the toe of the bluff in this area and elsewhere for many years. The original last section of stairs that were built in 2004 were damaged by several storms several years ago and had to be replaced several times. Eventually they were permanently removed and replaced with an at-grade trail and short boardwalk. The stair section which is now closed is just above this new trail access. Unfortunately, due to the extremely steep slope, the stairs which are now closed are well above this new trail access, consequently it is not possible to reach that trail and therefore not possible to access the beach.

The stairs and slope will need to be evaluated to determine if the shifting which has occurred may have affected the safety and integrity of the stairs. Since first reported, the piers which support the stairs have shown continued movement. Until the stairs and the slope can be fully evaluated, for the safety of the public the Eagle Landing Park stairs will remain closed for an indefinite time during which access to the beach will not be possible. Please note that Burien’s Seahurst Park just to the north of Eagle Landing is open with available beach access. Staff will update the City Council and public on the Eagle Landing stairs as new information becomes available.

Last February, we first reported on similar erosion problems. John White, whose home is located just north of the park, has been trying to get the city to admit that the cause of the erosion is not “wave action” as the city claims, but rather, from too much stormwater being dumped into the hill from above.

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“…as you can see, it happened just the way I said it would,” White told The B-Town Blog Wednesday. “What will this picture look like in December of 2015 if we do not take action now?!”

This section of stairs was recently rebuilt and re-opened last July.

The city is providing more information at www.burienwa.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1042

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Comments

7 Responses to “City closes entire stairway at Eagle Landing Park due to erosion”
  1. Loren says:

    Two the best things about Burien, Seahurst Park and Eagle Landing. Wish our public servants could get it right.

    • Burienite says:

      Assuming that they’ve done something wrong in this particular instance. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, whereas it might both surface water and wave/weather erosion that causing the issues with the hillside. I often wondered how the stair landings, and their supporting structure and footings would hold up to a high-bank hillside that is always (albeit slowly) moving.

  2. JOE says:

    Geologically …..building a stairway on a slippery slope is a lost cause..more money into repairs will not stop the natural erosion…just like the Rail line on our coast…Millions spent to stop landslides.

  3. Julie says:

    If only they had a bulkhead the staircase would still be there…..

  4. Carol. says:

    The ground around the stair supports has been slipping for years. I’ve watched the erosion since the park was built. In fact when we moved to the neighborhood 20+ years ago we were told if we wait long enough we would have a view of the water.

  5. Citizen says:

    Most of the homes near the park have trams that run up and down the slope on rails. The rails float on a series of supports up and down the hill side, but most of the weight of the rails rests on one pad at the bottom. That pad has a substantial foundation deep down to the hard stuff. As the hillside moves, many of the supports rotate away, and new supports need to be pounded into the soil occasionally. The trams have been in service for decades. These stairs didn’t last ten years. If they ever try to rebuild these stairs, they could use the tram model of rails supported on pads that can move, but have stair steps instead of a tram.

  6. Citizen says:

    I’m sure the people who continue to use the stairs every day really appreciate the city posting signs saying the stairs are closed. All they have to do is hop over the barricade, and they have the stairs to themselves while those rule-following suckers go home.

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