The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has been working closely with the business community and other officials since the South Park Bridge closure. On Thursday, many were witness to the triumphant groundbreaking ceremony for the new South Park Bridge and festive Cinco de Mayo celebration. Instead of the usual ceremonial “turning of the shovel,” officials opted for a giant, 26-foot-long replica of the new South Park Bridge in piñata form, celebrating the exciting start of a project—one that will eventually reconnect vital areas of Seattle to further economic growth.
To show support for South Park, Governor Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and other elected officials from the county, city and port attended the groundbreaking and mingled afterward. OED hosted a City Business Casual on the road event in honor of the new beginning. All who were there could see and feel the invaluable mix of communities and cultures among the festivities, illustrating the collective efforts behind the project.
King County Video
King County looks back on the seeming impossibility when the bridge originally closed last June. But King County Executive Dow Constantine recalled his devotion to finding the funding, remembering his physical promise by way of signature on a local business wall. Governor Christine Gregoire highlighted the 100 jobs the new construction will provide, the traffic on the bridge, and the economic growth a new bridge will promote. Finally, Mayor Mike McGinn recognized that although the bridge is a “county” bridge, South Park is part of Seattle. The bridge will provide a vital connection between neighborhoods.
Community members and officials saw a celebration in “‘true South Park style’” on Thursday, as the Seattle PI quoted. The PI looked back on the original fundraising efforts, eventually coming to fruition in the $34 million transportation stimulus from the federal government. Jose Vasquez of the recently formed South Park Latino Merchants Association said the community was worried for a while, wondering if they would be able to survive. But the new bridge will be in South Park in two years, and the weight has lifted a bit with the official groundbreaking ceremony now in the past.
Community interest and involvement continue to play integral roles of the South Park Bridge project. Restaurants and shops have “seen a drop in business” since the closure of the original bridge, which functioned as the main connection. King 5 highlighted the difficulty for customers to get to the businesses and that 20,000 people used to take the bridge every day. OED’s Andres Mantilla talked about OED’s work the local community, explaining OED’s work to provide technical and marketing support throughout the process.
Thursday marked a new start for many businesses and local restaurants in the South Park area. But Lornet Turnbull and Susan Gilmore felt the tension emanating from the locals who worried whether they can “survive” the next two years before the bridge project finishes. All levels of government were represented at the event, including the Port of Seattle and Boeing, launching the official “pre-construction” work.
For more information on South Park, the construction process and photos from the celebration, go to the All About South Park page or the South Park Seattle facebook page, kept current with all pertinent information.
All About South Park
If you’re still having trouble getting to South Park in the mean time, check out our previous post with a video for creative commutes.