by: Graham Johnson Updated:
SEATTLE, Wash. - Just in time for Memorial Day, 90 parking spots are opening on the Seattle waterfront where seawall construction has made a big mess.
On Friday, workers put the finishing touches on new, temporary parking spaces near the Seattle Aquarium.
Since work to replace the city's crumbling 1930s seawall began last November and took away parking, businesses like The Great Wheel have seen a drop in visitors.
"The disruption is big time," said wheel owner Hal Griffith.
The aquarium said the impact was worst in February, when visits dropped 15 percent.
CEO Bob Davidson estimates overall, visits dipped 8 percent during seawall construction.
Now the city is pausing seawall work on the north section of the waterfront for the summer tourist season.
"Seattle is expecting a lot of businesses this summer and I think we're expecting to get a good share of that here on the waterfront," Davidson said.
In October, seawall work will resume on the central waterfront and the impact on businesses will be much worse.
Several businesses, including Ivar's, plan to close for the winter.
The city will reimburse those businesses up to a total of $15 million.
The Aquarium, Argosy Cruises and the Great Wheel will stay open.
The city is trying to help tourists find their way through the construction zone.
Work just started on a $9,600 paint job on the side of the Alaskan Way Viaduct to point people toward the aquarium.
Seawall construction to the south of the ferry dock will continue through the summer.
That's also in the area where the tunnel machine Bertha is stuck.
Because of delays on the new Highway 99 tunnel, the seawall schedule was shuffled a bit, but the city says it remains on track to be done in the spring of 2016.