All those anglers casting shoulder to shoulder for salmon from the shores of Seattle may have a little more elbow room few years from now.
A public-private partnership’s plans to construct a new greenway along the northeast corner of Elliott Bay includes restoration of Pier 86, which has been closed to fishing and other uses since 2016 due to structural issues.
All of the estimated $45 million in funding would come philanthropists Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott, along with the Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation and the Expedia Group and the work is expected to be done in time for the 2026 World Cup, which would make it accessible for that summer’s Chinook and crab seasons.
“We’re thrilled at the prospect of revitalizing the Elliott Bay Fishing Pier, which has served as a community institution providing recreation and environmental education opportunities that link the city of Seattle with Puget Sound, from jigging for squid to casting a line for salmon,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind in a press release. “WDFW is grateful to the donors and Port of Seattle for moving this effort forward, and we are committed to continued partnership on the Elliott Bay Connections project.”
Pier 86 is just one of several overwater structures that have fallen into disrepair in recent years., leading to lost access for Puget Sound anglers. Others include the Dash Point Pier in Tacoma and Redondo Pier in Des Moines.
Gates said that parks like what’s envisioned with the Elliott Bay pedestrian and bicycle greenway help connect the public to green spaces, waterways and one another.
“I think of the family that comes on the weekend from South Seattle, and they want to bring their kids into downtown,” she told The Seattle Times. “‘Let’s just go downtown, and let’s stroll all the way from the piers, all the way through Myrtle Edwards, maybe onto Centennial and bring our picnic lunch and have some fun. Let the kids play on the beach, maybe we’ll go fishing, maybe we’ll get an ice cream down on the pier.’”
Leonard Forsman, chair of the Suquamish Tribe, said his people were excited to learn more about the project and how it would improve the banks and shores of Elliott Bay.
“Providing public access to these waters is also a tribal priority as we educate the public about the importance of preserving water quality and therefore helping all of us protect our treaty reserved resources, including salmon and shellfish,” he said.
As it stands, the public will also have a chance to weigh in on the greenway and park plans this fall, followed by the unveiling of initial design ideas, then permitting and construction.