The Art Inventory

Attend An On-Line Open House Of The Fremont Siphon Project

by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 6 March 2015


On March 2nd, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division hosted a public meeting on the imminent large-scale Siphon Replacement Project coming to Fremont.  A couple of dozen concerned citizens attended the meeting, at the Fremont Branch of the Seattle Public Library, and they received potentially vital information – necessary for all Fremonsters (and everyone who plans to play or pass through here over the next few years.)

For those who couldn’t attend, the King County team, and Enviroissues, has assembled a helpful, easy-to-use On-Line Open House tool where anyone can view materials on the Fremont Siphon Replacement Project through March 20th.  Can you help spread the word? It is at

‘To Be A Good Neighbor’

King County has done an admirable job, through the planning phase, of sharing details about the Fremont Siphon Replacement.  “We want to make sure information is available,” explained Doug Marsano, Community Relations Lead for the Fremont Siphon Replacement team.  As the Project goes from planning to process, “we will have information posted on the fences, on the website…” Marsano explained, “We like to create redundancy in all those ways.”

The Fremont Siphon website has a yellow box at the top of the page and, as Marsano explained, “We like to think of that as our headline.”  Right now, the yellow box has a link to the On-Line Open House.

“The project team is anxious to be a good neighbor during this process,” Marsano said, “We want to work with the community to make this a positive experience.”  During the massive upheaval of digging the siphon replacement tunnels under the Lake Washington Ship Canal, expect to see updates about traffic rerouting (including the Burke-Gilman Trail,) noise, and progress.  The website, like the On-Line Open House tool, also will allow for comments.  Of course, during the project, the public can also use the 24-hour hotline number or use e-mail to contact the Team.

To Minimize The Impacts

“We recognize there is a lot impact by being next to a construction site,” explained Annie Kolb-Nelson, King County Communications Specialist, “we can minimize those impacts if we hear about them.  If we don’t hear from people, we don’t know about it.”

The King County Fremont Siphon Replacement Project is the responsible maintenance of a 100-year-old sewage transport system that runs under the Ship Canal between Fremont and Queen Anne.  “I would bet it is the busiest,” Marsano said of our siphon, “Many days it carries half of the load going to the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.”  It does carry up to 220 million gallons of sewage and storm water each day – and with all the new development in Fremont, and the large swath of North Seattle area that feeds this siphon, that number will be increasing.

So far, the Fremont Siphon has not given anyone any problems, but King County Wastewater Treatment Division will replace it now, at the end of its expected life-span, before any cataclysmic failure happens.  “This contributes to a greater goal,” Kolb-Nelson observed, “Sewage infrastructure is something we don’t see, but is so important.  It contributes to the well-being of our whole world,” and any failure, she pointed out, “is a risk to the whole environment.”

In preparation for this project, King County advertised, took bids, and selected the lowest bid by the most qualified contractor – and that was Stellar J.  Marsano and Kolb-Nelson spoke highly of Stellar J, an experienced company that has done work with King County before on CSO (Combined Sewage Overflow) projects around Seattle.

Proposed Timeline

Stellar J will start work soon on the Fremont Siphon Replacement, possibly as soon as April, although a final construction schedule had not been finalized by the night of the Open House.  The first items on the construction schedule will be preparing the site including putting fences up around the work area, clearing off the Praxair building, loading in machines and materials and relocating any utilities.

According to the proposed schedule, visible on the On-Line Open House, preparation will be followed by the digging of the micro tunnels, sometime mid-2015.  The original siphon is to be replaced by two smaller micro tunnels, a much smaller, and distinctly different, project from the tunnel being dug in Downtown Seattle.  “It doesn’t have the same complexity or size,” Kolb-Nelson reassured.

Yet, this will still be a large project for Fremont.  The timeline on the On-Line Open House runs through the end of 2016.  “There may be some project close out at the start of 2017,” Marsano said, but “the major construction should be done by the end of 2016.”

Help Spread The Word

The Fremont Siphon Replacement Project will cause upheaval once it begins, which makes this an ideal time for Fremonsters to check the On-Line Open House.  Once work begins, many people may suddenly take notice of the noise and churn, and while it won’t be too late to ask questions and give comments, this is the time to give input to the work plan.

In 2017, when the Siphon Replacement has been completed, Fremont will have safe, sewage infrastructure, hopefully for another 100 years, and a permanent odor control facility – designed based on comments made by neighbors early in Replacement Project planning.

Keep up-to-date on the whole project on the King County Fremont Siphon Replacement website, and please help spread the word!



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©2015 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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