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The assault in the transit tunnel shocked the public and raised concerns about safety in the tunnel, and along Third Avenue. The King County Sheriff and the Seattle Police Department responded immediately by providing more security patrols.
The transit tunnel and Third Avenue are the busiest transit corridors in the region. I want the City to do more to ensure that downtown Seattle, particularly Third Avenue and the bus tunnel are safe and attractive to our residents, businesses and visitors. Security patrols should continue but more must be done to create a safe and attractive environment.
Two weeks ago Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and I walked along Third Avenue. We stopped at Westlake Park, and toured the Pioneer Square bus tunnel station. I invited Lt. John Hayes of the Seattle Police Department to join us.
I have worked with Lt. Hayes to improve the physical environment and safety in neighborhoods experiencing serious problems. During our walk we learned that cell phones don’t work in the transit tunnel. Lt. Hayes stated that the emergency telephones are difficult to locate even when we were looking for them. Imagine trying to call for help in an emergency! Trash was accumulating at tunnel entrances and graffiti had not been removed.
Taking Aggressive Steps to Transform the Tunnel and Third Avenue
My intention is to do all I can to make Third Avenue and Westlake Park clean and safe. Numerous agencies and departments have responsibilities for Third Avenue and Westlake Park including a least four City Departments, the Sheriff’s Office, the Seattle Police Department, Metro and Sound Transit and the Metropolitan Improvement District. With so many resources available and so many agencies responsible it is frustrating to me that Third Avenue and the tunnel don’t look better. Clearly, we need a better system of accountability.
The bus tunnel entrance between Cherry and James is dirty and deteriorating. We must fix this.
A shopping cart was overturned near the escalator. It remained there for several days after our tour until I found the right person to get it removed. This is not acceptable. Further north, near the McDonald’s at Pine Street, three dumpsters blocked a portion of the sidewalk. Around the corner the sidewalk was covered with gum and the tunnel entrance was grimy and damaged.
Clearly, better coordination and “ownership” of Third Avenue by City departments is needed. We may also need to help adjacent property owners better understand their responsibilities.
In an effort to bring about quick action and to ensure accountability, I have requested all of the departments and agencies including Metro and Sound Transit to outline their responsibilities related to Third Avenue – including the bus tunnel stations and entrances. I have also requested information on the current planning and coordination efforts between the various public agencies including the police and sheriff officers and the MID.
After reviewing their responses I will have a better understanding of what is and what is not working. I will work closely with the Departments, to improve the appearance and safety of Third Avenue and Westlake Park.
As we move forward I will keep you posted on what we will be doing to ensure that Third Avenue, the bus tunnel and Westlake Park are all clean and safe and that we are proud of how our downtown looks and feels.