Downtown Port Angeles esplanade now open to public
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Jeremy Schwartz/Peninsula Daily News
Rick Glende and Lindsay Huff sit on one of the wood-and-metal benches overlooking the newly opened $3.9 million Port Angeles waterfront esplanade Friday afternoon. Glende and Huff were visiting Port Angeles from Wisconsin for a family reunion.
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People walk along the newly opened Port Angeles waterfront esplanade Friday afternoon after construction fences were removed from the 
$3.9 million project the day before. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz/Peninsula Daily News.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The freshly installed concrete of Port Angeles' downtown waterfront esplanade saw its first pedestrians last week after some of the remaining construction fences were removed.

Nathan West, the city's community and economic development director, said more needs to be done on the $3.9 million esplanade project, though it has been finished enough to allow pedestrians to explore the new construction.

“We still have work to do, but we wanted to make sure we [got] it open to the public as soon as possible,” West said Friday.

“I can tell you the project is on budget, and it's on schedule.”

On schedule, budget

Fences were removed Thursday.

Crews from Primo Construction Inc. of Carlsborg have been working since October to improve sidewalks and surfaces of portions of North Oak Street and West Railroad Avenue, in addition to building a concrete esplanade running parallel to Railroad Avenue.

The esplanade itself is a split-level platform, with benches overlooking the water on the upper part and additional seating areas formed from dark-gray concrete below.

The walkway is bordered on the waterside by handrails made from metal posts and cords.

West said work to be completed includes installing new street lights, placing small pieces of decorative glass in the steps leading down to the esplanade and some additional painting.

More to do

The city also plans to reinstall the “Gandy Dancer” sculpture along Railroad Avenue that was removed before work began, West added.

The official ribbon-cutting for the esplanade likely will be late this month, West said, and will focus on recognizing the 13 locally owned contractors and firms that did the work.

Nancy and Bill Helwick of Port Angeles were walking the sidewalk adjacent to the esplanade Friday morning, just as they've done over the past few months, checking on the project's progress.

The couple agreed the project is definitely an improvement and likely would draw passengers fresh off the Black Ball Ferry Line terminal just to the east.

The MV Coho ferry makes several trips daily across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria from that terminal.

The Helwicks questioned a few design elements of the project, though, such as the opaque glass wind blocks built in front of the newly installed wood-and-metal benches facing the water.

Nancy Helwick said her height when sitting on the benches barely allows her to see over the wind blocks.

“It's got me puzzled,” Bill Helwick said.

West said clear glass was avoided because of the amount of cleaning it would require to keep residue from sea spray off the glass itself.

Scenic photographs

Photographs of various natural scenes on the North Olympic Peninsula, taken by Port Angeles-based Amidst Vision Photography, were enlarged and sandwiched between two pieces of glass to form the wind blocks, West explained.

Page Chapman and Barbara Ramsay of Idaho were strolling along the esplanade while waiting for the Coho ferry to Victoria late Friday morning and said they enjoyed the layout of the area.

“That's why we decided to come out of [the ferry terminal] and go this way,” Chapman said.

“It attracted us.”

Rick Glende and Lindsay Huff, sitting on one of the wood-and-metal benches overlooking the esplanade, said they were walking through downtown Port Angeles after having lunch at The Landing mall when they noticed the new-looking waterfront.

“We looked over there and [said], 'It looks pretty nice, so let's go sit down,'” Glende said, adding that he and Huff were visiting Port Angeles from Wisconsin for a family reunion.

Not far to the west, Brian Anderson and Pamela Clayton of Sequim were ascending the small steps leading from the esplanade to the sidewalk on their way to Barhop Brewing just across Railroad Avenue.

'It looks pretty nice'

Anderson and Clayton said they ride their bicycles along the Waterfront Trail from Sequim a couple times a year and were glad to see the trail integrated into the new sidewalk adjacent to the esplanade.

The trail is marked with blue or green iridescent circles fixed into the concrete bordered by small metal triangles with “trail” etched into them.

Anderson and Clayton agreed the esplanade and sidewalk improvements as a whole likely will draw more pedestrians.

“It'll sure help this end of the [downtown],” Anderson said.

“We'd be more inclined to bring people down here.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 31. 2013 5:29PM
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