By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — Rampant drinking, urinating, defecating, IV drug use, crack and meth pipe smoking — those are among the complaints from people who work and commute around a decommissioned trolley stop on 5th Avenue and Jackson Street in the Chinatown–International District.
Now, Sound Transit wants to get rid of the trolley stop.
Spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said that on Sept. 27, the Sound Transit Board approved to pay $56,000 to David Evans and Associates to survey, design, and engineer the removal of the station, and to restore the curb line.
Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and King County Metro are contributing $10 million each to a $30 million collaborative project for improving mobility in downtown Seattle and in the region.
The $56,000 for the platform removal study and design will come out of Sound Transit’s $10 million share.
$56,000 is not the demolition price. It’s only the cost to prepare to demolish.
“No, no, no,” said John Poston, who works at the nearby Union Market. “Unless they’re taking it out of the (Seattle City) Council’s pockets or the mayor’s. They need to quit taking money from the people.” Poston said he’d rather see money spent on helping the homeless.
Yao Yu, owner of Maxang Deli, didn’t share his opinion on the price tag. But he said removing the platform would allow for vehicles to turn onto Jackson more easily.
“Better that they spend the money here (Chinatown) than elsewhere,” he said.
Reason described David Evans and Associates as “an on-call consultant” with Sound Transit, and that the decision to hire them was a cost-efficient means to proceed with the study as quickly as possible.
The demolition is one of many pre-planned projects as part of a program formerly known as One Center City (OCC). Other projects include the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the new Center City streetcar line — all to increase mobility through the greater Seattle downtown area. Reason said the OCC plan is to demolish the stop by the end of this year, and that putting the engineering study out to bid would have been costly and time-consuming.
There’s no cost for the actual demolition yet, but in May, an online update for OCC showed a potential price of $414,000.
Reason said the City of Seattle, King County Metro Transit, and Sound Transit are splitting the $414,000 cost equally three ways.
The City requires any entity seeking to construct or demolish a structure to complete its street-use permitting process. In addition, Sound Transit must follow the City’s required International Special Review District (ISRD) process, since the Chinatown–International District is a historic district.
ISRD coordinator Rebecca Frestedt said the board received an application for the removal of the station and restoration of the roadway and curb in February. After getting additional information in March, and again in August, the board got a project briefing on Sept. 11.
“Once I receive the additional information needed to complete the application, namely details about the existing conditions and restoration plans, the application will be scheduled for review by the ISRD board at the next available board meeting,” said Frestedt.
Across the street from the trolley stop is the International District/Chinatown Station. Sound Transit and its partners hope the demolition will help make the area more hospitable. Reason said there have been numerous reports of women being harrassed “by groups of inebriated men who hang out daily on the trolley platform.”
She said the stop’s removal will “improve the public realm and make the International District-Chinatown transit hub a safe and friendly place to live, visit, and work.”
The trolley, named for former City Councilman George Benson, opened in 1982 and was extended to 5th and Jackson in 1990. The service ended in 2005 to make room for the Seattle Art Museum’s new Olympic Sculpture Park, which demolished the trolley-maintenance building.
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.