New trail to cut through Jungle, connect to South Seattle
Welcome to the Jungle, the bicycle-friendly version.
For years, the greenbelt in Beacon Hill has been a haven for drugs, violence and crime. Tucked behind trees is a homeless encampment that won't go away, no matter what police try.
"There is drugs, alcohol, people getting killed down in there," said an area resident named Rhonda.
The city and state have partnered up to build a 12-foot-wide walking and biking trail right through the middle of the Jungle. It will connect Beacon Hill to South Seattle.
"I'm aware of some of the violence that's happened there," said Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. "This is an opportunity to take this big chunk of real estate and turn it into something that is practical."
Rhonda is not convinced the move will wipe out the Jungle's troubles.
"I wouldn't ride it. It's just my opinion," she said.
But police believe repurposing the land will help improve it. The idea is to build a public amenity and invite in the good element, which will push out the bad element.
"The more people we get there, the more use we get, the better off Seattle is and the lower the crime will be," Whitcomb said.
The Seattle Department of Transportation say the planned trail is much more than a paved sidewalk.
"Twenty five-foot-high lights, fencing on both sides that ranges from 6 to 8 feet high. So people will feel comfortable on the trail," said SDOT spokesman Rich Sheridan.
Bike Tour Guide David Mozer says he can't wait for the trail to open.
"Because you're homeless doesn't mean you've got it in for bicyclist. I don't think they'll be a lot of interaction," he said.
Mozer knows it won't be a cure-all for homelessness.
"The bike trail is a win-win. It's not a total solution for the homeless issue, but it won't hurt it, either," he said.
The trail is a collaboration of several city departments, including the mayor's office. The city says homeless advocates are working with the homeless to help them with their move.
A park levy and state dollars are paying for the trail, which will open in the fall.