Mammoth Ferris wheel coming to Seattle waterfront

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SEATTLE —

A longtime project that has been millions of dollars in the making will bring a giant Ferris wheel to Seattle’s waterfront in time for the summer crowds.

On Tuesday, another phase is under way as crews pour about 550 tons of concrete, basically covering Pier 57, which will serve as the base of the Ferris wheel.

Crews will pipe the concrete down to the end of the pier because the trucks are too heavy for the pier.

Dozens of pilings under the pier have been hollowed out and filled with cement.

Crews hope to erect the Ferris wheel, which will be 175 feet in diameter and 200 feet high, by this time next month.

Project foreman Simon Johnston is excited about the end result.

“It’s going to be amazing to watch. It’s going to be a really unique experience to watch.  It’s going to come up like a spider, eight legs coming up the main sprocket with 42 gondolas.  It’s going to be interesting and really nice,” said Johnston.

The gondolas, which hold six people, will be heated and air conditioned, and part of the ride will spin over Elliott Bay.  

The man behind the dream, Hal Griffith, said with the viaduct coming down, a tunnel coming in and all the construction that comes along with the projects, he thought something needed to be done to keep people coming to the waterfront.

“We were real concerned that if we didn’t have something strong enough to bring people down here that all the businesses on the waterfront would suffer and may even go out of business, so this project is not only ours, but it’s for the community,” said Griffith.

Griffith said he has wanted to build the wheel for 30 years, but city approval and permitting never worked out, until he and his sons thought of building it on Pier 57, which Griffith owns.

"We are adding to the skyline and that'll make Seattle greater than it is now," said Griffith.

Griffith said the Ferris wheel will arrive soon in parts from around the world, and crews will begin erecting it in the first week of May.

The plan is to have it up and running, at about $12 a ride, by the Fourth of July.

The ride will run year-round.

The wheel weighs 280,330 pounds when empty and about 334,900 pounds with passengers.