Update on September 2, 2020 at 6 p.m.
Today, the Navigation Team removed a safety hazard on and around the former Marion Street pedestrian walkway after, last week, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) declared the bridge to be structurally unsound and a danger to those living in an encampment on and below the structure.
There were ten tents and one structure inside the affected area at the start of today’s action. Navigation Team System Navigator outreach specialists engaged with all nine individuals living within the affected zone and others in the area experiencing homelessness. Systemwide, there were at least 24 shelter beds available and, based on preliminary data, one referral to shelter was accepted. Navigation Team Field Coordinators identified and documented four bins of personal items for storage.
The outreach conducted today by the Navigation Team and its partners, including REACH, was the culmination of a weeklong effort to address the needs of the individuals living in the area to ensure continuity of services after relocation. Over the past two days, ten people voluntarily relocated before today’s activities.
An inspection by SDOT following today’s removal revealed that the western edge of the structure was becoming unseated from the weight-bearing timber beam, exemplifying the danger to the persons in the encampments had they remained in place.
Early last week, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) Roadway Structures Division observed shear cracks developing around the lower structural supports on the remnants of a former pedestrian walkway near the Waterfront. The obsolete structure once connected Marion Street to the ferry terminal, but was partially demolished in 2019 along with the Alaskan Viaduct, leaving a small dead-end section attached to the Commuter Building, which is slated for demolition in the near future. The cracks indicate that the former walkway is structurally unsound putting those in an encampment on and below the structure in danger.
SDOT has also recently identified fire damage caused by the encampment near the west end of the structure on the timber decking, posing the risk of deck failure. The structure still has remnants of the original creosote coated timber stringers and floor beams which are an added health hazard for those living on or near the structure.
On Friday, August 28, SDOT posted Notice of Construction signs in the area of the former pedestrian walkway. This construction includes the removal of the structure and is set to begin on September 2 and continue through the end of the year.
As a result of the safety concerns for persons in the encampment, created by the impaired structural integrity of the former pedestrian walkway and the impending construction, on Monday, August 31, the City of Seattle posted a 48-hour advance notice for all personal property to be removed from the structure and the area directly surrounding it.
As of Tuesday, September 1, there were 11 tents total on and around the pedestrian bridge in the impacted area.
The City’s Navigation Team, along with outreach partners including REACH, DESC, and Public Health – Seattle & King County, have been conducting ongoing outreach in the area to address the needs of those living unsheltered, including offers of shelter and services. Outreach teams are coordinating to ensure continuity of services. As with every encampment removal, the Navigation Team will offer storage and continued referrals to shelter and services to those living in the impacted area during and after the encampment move.
From May through mid-August, the Navigation Team has engaged the area nine times for outreach and 25 times for litter and debris mitigation. Outreach during that time resulted in six referrals to shelter.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, removals of unauthorized encampments and obstructions by the City of Seattle have been suspended, with exceptions for extreme public health and public safety circumstances. Since this directive was implemented, seven encampments have met this strict criteria through July. Since March, citywide the Navigation Team has made over 600 site visits for outreach, conducted over 1,000 litter and debris mitigation operations, and made over 520 referrals to shelter.