Both sides of Leary Way under the Ballard Bridge are now surrounded in chain link fence. In some places, it’s topped with barbed wire. Until the fence went up, the area had been a popular place for the homeless to camp.
The fence was installed to “maintain the structural integrity of the bridge and keep our communities and commuters safe,” SDOT said in a statement. “Wooden structures, open flames and propane tanks all pose a clear danger to public safety and has the potential to destroy this critical transportation corridor that 60,000 vehicles rely on each day.”
SDOT said there have been two fires under the bridge in recent years, in 2013 and 2016.
SDOT also pointed to the devastating fire under an overpass in Atlanta last year. Police say a homeless man set a fire that ignited plastic conduit stacked nearby.
The new Ballard fence has been a hot topic in the My Ballard Facebook Group, drawing both praise for SDOT and concern the fence doesn’t address the larger problem.
Speaking with the Seattle Times, Councilmember Mike O’Brien says the fence is just displacing the campers. “They’re probably three blocks from here, next to some business,” he said.
The Times reported the Ballard Bridge fencing cost $100,000.