SEATTLE -- Seattle’s Navigation Team say there are about 400 homeless encampments across the city. Some of them are along major roads and highways and that includes Highway 509 in South Seattle. With a speed limit of 40 miles per hour, it’s a no-brainer how dangerous it would be to have to slam on your brakes for someone crossing the major highway. It’s happened too many times for driver Darren Hayes.
“They’re going across to another homeless encampment or something. Yeah it’s a pretty dangerous way to go,” said driver Darren Hayes.
When it happens, Seattle Police Sergeant Eric Zerr says don’t hesitate to call police.
“If it’s an immediate hazard, call 911. The police department should get out there,” said Seattle Police Sergeant Eric Zerr.
People who live near Myers Way and Highway 509 thought the frequent walkers would go away once this encampment was swept by the city last year. The WSDOT drainage system in the wooded area was unclogged and the campers forced out. That helped to prevent more hazards for 509 below as nearby resident Ben Calot worried about.
“They just dump the trash out here and it just cascades down to 509,” said resident Ben Calot.
While that camp was swept, it seems other spots where homeless people live in tents and broken-down cars have just popped up in its space near First Avenue South and Kenyon Street. Five Seattle Police officers visited the site. Seattle Police tells Q13 they are likely navigation team members checking in on the struggling population.
Just last week, the city swept this homeless encampment near the Fremont Troll. A big concern was homeless people crossing Aurora Avenue.
“Those are the spots we try to get to immediately for removal. Because they are the most dangerous especially for the camper but for everybody,” said Zerr.
Whether it’s 99, 509, or I-5, Sergeant Zerr says it’s a top priority for Seattle Police.
“We just don’t want to see someone getting hit. But it’s also traumatic for the people that are driving their vehicles and all of a sudden someone darts out in front of them,” said Zerr.
It’s the consequences that make Darren think twice as a driver.
“You have to keep an eye out for them because if you hit them, you’re going to be in big trouble,” said Hayes.
Sgt. Zerr says people can use the Find it, Fix It app. You normally think of the app when reporting a pothole, but Zerr says you can use it to report a homeless encampment as well.