The end of Seattle’s construction boom

The coronavirus pandemic prompted Washington leadership to stop almost all construction

National Weekend Edition /
Mar.March 29, 2020 12:00 PM
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has put a halt to nearly all construction in his state to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Construction will stop at commercial and residential sites for two weeks as a result of an order to stop all non-essential work, according to Bloomberg. That includes projects in Seattle, one of the nation’s busiest cities for building.

Inslee’s counterpart in New York, Andrew Cuomo, also ordered a stop to most construction on Friday. Boston was the first city to do so when it halted construction last Monday.

More than 100 people in King County, home to Seattle, have died of COVID-19 and doctors have confirmed more than 1,500 cases of the illness there. That’s about half of all cases in the state and two-third of all deaths.

Some projects will be allowed to continue, including publicly funded affordable housing and emergency maintenance work. Contractors can resume work if they meet a handful of safety guidelines, but it is likely the majority of the state’s 222,000 construction industry employees will be staying home for the near future.

David D’Hondt, an executive with a statewide contractor’s association, called the governor’s order “definitely more restrictive than we had feared,” and said that while it was difficult to say how many people would be affected by the order, it would be a “significant number.”

Inslee’s order gives local government entities jurisdiction over what public infrastructure projects could continue and which are to be stopped. D’Hondt said he hopes it will mitigate the impact on the industry.

Seattle has a number of large-scale projects in the works, including a $1.8 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center and Amazon’s seemingly ever-growing campus. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch


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