As part of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s efforts to remodel Seattle’s Third Avenue, the northbound bus stop between Pike and Pine streets will temporarily close from April 2, according to a spokesperson for the mayor. The move, which was requested by the Seattle Police Department, was done in consultation with the Seattle Department of Transportation and the King County Metro.
“The purpose of the closure is to increase the visibility [by Seattle police] in criminal activity… and to reduce congregation areas,” spokesman Jamie Housen said. “During this temporary closure, we will continue to assess whether it contributes to the reduction in criminal activity.”
Transit riders who catch their bus at stop #578 will need to travel one block to stop #575 just south of the Pike near Ross Dress for Less, consolidating riders in one location while thinning out crowds on a long frustrated block. city officials.
Finding an effective and lasting response to Third Avenue, the site of a notorious outdoor drug market, has eluded city hall for years. In 2015, as part of the city’s “9.5 Block Strategy”, the same bus stop was also temporarily moved one block to the south. But in recent months, as foot traffic has disappeared from downtown during the pandemic, downtown businesses and advocacy groups have upped their calls for a stronger response. A recent spate of shootings, coinciding with Harrell’s first months in office, has focused on the street.
The stop is closed by King County Metro at the request of the City of Seattle. “Third and Pine has been on Metro’s radar for many years as a location where public safety concerns are apparent and frequently elicit responses from law enforcement, including the King County Metro Police and the Seattle Police Department,” said King County spokeswoman Elaine Porterfield. Subway. Metro shares the city’s interest in making the area safer for riders, she said.
Since taking office, Harrell has held several press conferences about public safety and Third Avenue in particular, at which he anticipated changes to the street’s transit infrastructure would be part of his plan.
Harrell’s approach to the area will be ‘holistic’, Housen said, with a focus on reviving economic activity and addressing ‘beautification concerns’ by adding art to infrastructure. neglected public transport.
The police presence along Third Avenue has increased in recent weeks, with officers patrolling on foot and a “mobile sector” van permanently parked between Pike and Pine. In turn, the once crowded sidewalks have become considerably less crowded.
Seattle police were to further bolster law enforcement last week by treating most of Third Avenue as a transit stop, allowing officers to cite individuals for ‘disorderly conduct’ on buses or at close to public transport facilities. Unearthing this little-used criminal code would have given officers more leeway to crack down on behaviors like smoking, gambling, loud music and a long list of other activities that are not usually cited by law enforcement.
But Harrell stepped in at the last minute to “postpone” the operation, without giving a date for when it would resume, saying his office wanted to look further into the best enforcement mechanisms.
Third Avenue became a priority street for buses in 2018 as the Alaskan Way overpass descended. Cars, once allowed outside peak hours, were banned at all hours of the day.
The Downtown Seattle Association has raised concerns about the move to a transit corridor, which is now one of the busiest in the country. “The current volume of transit activity is negatively impacting the pedestrian experience and, indirectly, the vitality of adjacent businesses,” the advocacy organization wrote in its “Third Avenue Vision” booklet. of 2018.
The organization is proposing several changes, including the “reorganization” of bus volumes between Second, Third, and Fourth Avenues.
But Olga Sagan, owner of Piroshky Piroshky Bakery, wasn’t convinced changing traffic patterns would make a difference. “I think changing it because of criminal activity is a knee-jerk reaction and it won’t change anything,” she said last week.
Sagan closed its downtown bakery last month, citing excessive crime near the store’s location on Third and Pike.
Reacting to news of the recent closure of bus stops, a spokesman for the Downtown Seattle Association, James Sido, called the move “wise in the short term.”
“The concentration of transit riders and narrow sidewalks at this location made it easy for some people to conceal illegal activity, and we know the challenges associated with this stretch of Third Avenue,” he said. .