LILLIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT
With its breathtaking skyline and proximity to the water, Seattle is considered one of America's premiere port cities, but tiny crustaceans threaten this major metropolis. They're called gribbles, so small you can't even see them, only the damage they've left behind.
RICHARD MILLER, SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION DEPT.
Creates a lot of holes in the wood and weakens the wood, to the point where it just falls apart.
These pieces of wood are what holds Seattle's seawall in place. At 60 feet wide and 8,000 feet long, the seawall is a tourist Mecca, home to a ferry dock and adjacent to a major thoroughfare. But with gribbles chomping away at a rate of nearly an inch a year, the seawall, engineers say, will ultimately collapse, especially if another earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest.
MAYOR GREG NICKELS, SEATTLE
The seawall is just a critical place where we interface with the ocean, and it's important that seawall remain intact, so that the activities built on the water are attached to our city.
The push is now on to construct a new seawall and rebuild the double-decker highway that runs next to it. If the city goes ahead and replaces the seawall, then the people who live and work here will have to endure years of nonstop construction, and the project is costly. Estimates run as high as $1.5 billion. The decision will ultimately be left to Seattle voters, leaving the city on shaky ground for now.