See more about the City’s overall increased efforts to address increased trash related to illegal dumping and camping throughout the city.
Over the last few weeks, the City of Seattle teamed up with WSDOT to begin a focused and intense cleanup of areas along the I-5 corridor through Seattle. The work began on March 16 around Northeast Ravenna Boulevard at Northeast 65th Street exits to the I-5 southbound and northbound ramps between Northeast 45th and Northeast 50th streets. Over March 25 and 26, work occurred along the I-5 express lanes, while the Dearborn Street on/off ramps and the Sixth Avenue and James Street exit were addressed in the weeks in between.
While few people lived in these areas, likely due to the fast-moving traffic and steep hills, a great deal of trash and debris accumulated. In addition to the public health hazards associated with accumulating garbage, the City prioritized these locations because of safety concerns for the people camping there – for example, people were running across the lanes of traffic to access the locations and last year a homeless man lost his life when a drunk driver and ran over his tent along the side of the Northeast 45th Street on-ramp.
Prior to any trash collection, the City’s Navigation Team of specially trained SPD officers and outreach workers went out and contacted the handful of individuals who have camped along this route to offer services and alternative shelter. City staff also offered to store belongings for those on site during advance outreach and on the day of cleanup. Some people moved on before the cleanup began, and others accepted offers of alternative shelter, including one individual who accepted and was moved into one of the tiny houses at a sanctioned encampment.
This past weekend’s highly coordinated effort along the I-5 express lanes included WSDOT and crews from SDOT, Seattle Public Utilities, Parks and Finance and Administrative Services, as well as private contractors who specialize in handling hazardous material and are trained for accessing steep slopes and other dangerous terrain.
Some of the areas were quite challenging to reach and crews were working under tight timelines. Given the concerns with high-speeds and narrow shoulders, WSDOT did not open the I-5 express lanes for the morning commute this weekend, which gave crews the flexibility to join forces, mobilize and tackle the large amount of debris along this stretch of the highway. The trash cleanup was completed with enough time left to allow WSDOT crews to address other maintenance needs while the lanes were closed, and the lanes were actually reopened to northbound traffic earlier than planned on Sunday.
Over the multi-day cleanup, crews collected trash and debris, including biohazards, needles and abandoned tents – removing 65 tons of garbage in total from all of the sites addressed.