Transportation departments are spending at least $1.1 million this year on fences to keep homeless people separated from Seattle highways.
It’s a one-off project, but the state expects to install more barriers in future years, as specific crises appear.
“It’s a statewide issue,” said Travis Phelps, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). “We’re going to be collaborating with cities and other jurisdictions, to make sure that folks who are experiencing homelessness and other issues are not camping underneath highways and other spots, and putting themselves at risk.”
City staff claim they’re averting the sort of incident that occurred in Atlanta, where a span of Interstate 85 collapsed in a March fire, but neglect to mention the intensity of the fire was caused by items stored there by the state.
They even admitted that the so-called “reason” was bogus when a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Travis Phelps said Seattle “doesn’t fear an Atlanta-type fire, For instance, temperatures near 2,000 degrees are required for at least 15 minutes, to destroy a concrete tunnel,” because they don’t store materials under the highways.
The other excuses they imagined up were preventing thefts, biohazards and car-pedestrian crashes.
Recently, Mike O’Brien, Ballard’s Seattle City Council member, biked up the Ballard Bridge and counted five tents camped under the north ramp, reports the Seattle Times.
He went back the next week, and those tents were gone. The underpass was fenced off, and workers were drilling holes to put up a 10-foot-high spiked fence to prevent homeless people from camping there.
The price tag on this fencing: $100,000 for both sides of Northwest Leary Way at the Ballard Bridge. That money, O’Brien reasoned, could have housed those five households in apartments for a year.
“So where are they now?” O’Brien said, with construction under the bridge behind him almost drowning him out. “They didn’t go into housing. They likely didn’t move to North Dakota. They’re probably three blocks from here, next to some business.”
O’Brien’s question underscores the ongoing public debate about where the estimated 5,500 unsheltered homeless people in King County should be allowed to camp.
As Seattle has opened six authorized tent camps in the past two-plus years and deployed a team to coax people out of hundreds of unauthorized camps, it also has increasingly used fences and other infrastructure to close off some public spaces.
Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) installed bike racks in Belltown last year, and told The Stranger in December they were explicitly designed to keep people from camping there.
Despite opposition from even the leftist city council, and their excuses for doing so being utterly debunked, SDOT does not plan to halt construction of the fences in Ballard because they are important for safety, the agency said — a position shared by at least one Seattle business group.
“SDOT’s focus is to maintain the structural integrity of the bridge and keep our communities and commuters safe, especially following a series of reported fires,” SDOT said in a statement.
The use of infrastructure to discourage sleeping or camping by homeless people is known as “hostile architecture.” It can be as explicit as the city of Spokane’s dumping tons of basalt boulders under Interstate-90 last fall to discourage people from camping, or Tacoma dropping boulders on a grass parking strip where people congregated a year before.
One has to wonder though, when will Seattle, now infamous for its sanctuary city status, will realize the reason they have this homeless problem is because of all the illegal alien criminals they have embraced and given mountains of handouts to?
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
February 8th, 2018