WSDOT to remove homeless camp along I-90 as rock-throwing incidents increase in the area

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Washington State Patrol (WSP) announced they will work to remove a homeless encampment at Benvenuto Viewpoint as debris throwing incidents have increased in that area. 

According to WSP, there have been at least 208 reported instances of rock or debris throwing since January.

"The debris and rock-throwing in proximity to specific encampments off of I-90 and I-5 is a public safety threat that we take very seriously and must be addressed immediately. We’ve worked in partnership with the Washington State Patrol as they investigate debris throwing incidents and continue to do what we can in the interest of public safety," said WSDOT Regional Administrator Mike Cotten in a statement.

"After surveying the site with WSP, it has been determined the encampment at the Benvenuto Viewpoint is a safety risk and must be removed along with another location adjacent to the westbound I-90 off-ramp to Rainier Avenue," the statement continued. 

Unlike previous efforts in which a notice of removal is posted 72 hours in advance, WSDOT will be posting for removal on Thursday. 

The city of Seattle will assist with debris removal, provide outreach to the people living in the right of way to advise them of what options and resources are available, and will offer storage of personal possessions if needed. 

Once the encampment is removed, WSDOT will work to modify the site to discourage anyone from occupying the site.

All of the encampments that are right around the freeways are on the state DOT lands.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the issue "complicated." In the past, WSDOT would work with Seattle’s Navigation Team to clear homeless encampments that posed a safety risk, however, the Seattle City Council voted to get rid of the Navigation Team.

While a majority of these incidents have happened along a stretch of I-90 through Seattle, this is also occurring on interstates throughout King County.

On Tuesday, seven vehicles were hit around 4 p.m. on westbound I-90 near Rainier Ave. Troopers were able to arrest a 31-year-old man from Seattle, who they believe is responsible. 

Just two days earlier, another instance was reported. This time, the victim actually saw the perpetrator coming out of the woods surrounding I-90 west, just past the Rainier Avenue exit.

The victim said the man threw a sizable rock toward his car. Four other cars were hit on Sunday.

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