falling pier and stairs
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On Monday (Nov. 23), the failed section of the bottom stairs at Burien’s Eagle Landing Park was removed by a crew using a barge crane.
Under city staff oversight, a contractor completed work to remove the potential hazards from the damaged lower portion of the stairs at the park, including stairway sections, concrete footings, and pin piles.
The crew rigged and hoisted the entire concrete pier off the slope and onto the deck of the barge.
The remaining stairs are permanently closed by the City, and rented fencing is used to keep the public from walking on them. Also, new signs have been posted claiming the entire area is a landslide hazard.
The City action was directed by a geotechnical report paid for by the City and carried out by Geo Engineers.
Previously, the City has said that storms and high tides were responsible for eroding the face of the slope making the bank and stairs unstable.
But neighbor John White doesn’t agree with the city’s explanation for the failure.
“The City claims storms created sea erosion that caused the bottom pier to fail but local residents insist the failure was caused by run off from an open storm drain that dumps at the top of Eagle Landing Park and becomes a river all the way to the failed pier,” White told The B-Town Blog.
“The removal is consistent with the City’s decision to close the stairs in order to preserve public safety in light of the shifting slope beneath,” City of Burien Communications Officer Katie Trefry told The B-Town Blog. “Removing the stairs by barge prevented unnecessary environmental impacts because the stairs did not have to be dragged up the slope. In fact, there was very little ground disturbance, as the stairs, concrete footings, and pin piles were removed in three units.”
The contactor is scheduled to mulch the bare patches left behind first thing Tuesday morning when the tide is out – this will help with erosion control, Trefry said.
“Fortunately, weather and timing were in our favor today and the work was completed safely,” Trefry added. “The upper portions of the stairs remain closed to public access.”
White adds that he has “put more effort than anyone” in challenging the City’s geotechnical findings, which are backed by what he calls a “bogus geotechnical report that does not take into account the storm drain or the failed sea wall.”
White says that he has hired two geotechnical firms to do a more complete study as to what happened at Eagle Landing Park, which neighbors his property at Forest Ledge.
“The City spent over one million dollars buying the park and another four hundred thousand on the stairs,” White said. “This cannot go to waste because of poor planning at the start.”
White adds:

“The City had plenty of geotechnical advice before building those stairs. They installed a French Drain at the top of Park, thinking this would control the storm runoff but the drain overflows and this is the root cause of all the failures.”
“Anyone with a basic understanding of geotechnical dynamics knows a slope will move. However, the speed of movement at Eagle Landing is not natural – it is sped up by the runoff from a storm drain that should not be there. In other words, the slope became a hazard due to the storm drain runoff, not from any natural storm or sea event.”

White said that he knows it will take a lot of money to finance a good geotechnical report but “it is necessary to get the stairs open again.”
“Once the problem is accepted and steps are taken to solve the issues, the stairs will be safe and lasting,” he added.
White says he has offered to help pay for the necessary improvements to prevent stormwater runoff from further damaging the slope and stairs.
“I live here in Burien, right next door to the Park,” he added. “It was a wonderful place to exercise and visit the beach – it’s too bad the City failed to listen to the locals…they have been warning the City for more than a decade. I will not stop my efforts until the stairs are reopened and the storm drain is fixed.”

Photos courtesy City of Burien and John White.

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