At Least Shattered Glass On the Sidewalk Looks Festive


Residents at the pinnacle of Pigeon Point, a smaller hill just before you get to West Seattle proper, live at the top of a very steep road. Tires spin out in the rain, undercarriages scrape pavement on the bumps going down, and if there's any ice, you might be better off leaving the car in the parking lot at the bottom and hoofing it to the top. So it's not all that surprising that we might have an accident or two.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, there was a doozy at the corner of Andover and 22nd Avenue SW. On Monday after the holiday I walked down the road to find the remnants of a bumper and hunks of metal and plastic at the foot of a dented utility pole. Tiny shards of what was once a windshield scattered another half a block or so down the road and sidewalk.

Two weeks later, the mess is still there. This looked like the kind of accident where there would be a report--you don't just nail a pole on the opposite side of the road from the direction you were driving (at least to my untrained eye it looked like the car hit it while going down the hill--the pole was on the uphill side), lose your bumper and windshield and have the whole thing go unnoticed. But even if no officers or medics responded to the scene, clearly no one had cleaned anything but the car itself out.

A week later, city road crews set up blockades and repaired a section of road and a curb about 20 yards up from the accident scene. They even put a sign directly on top of the glass warning oncoming traffic of the construction. Yet two days later, after cleaning up the road work detritus, bumper and glass remained. What gives? I thought. You couldn't have just reached a little bit farther and picked the glass up while you were cleaning up?

Having no idea who would be responsible, I started with the cop who attends the local neighborhood watch meetings. He forwarded my message to the Seattle Department of Transportation. A couple days later someone there sent me an e-mail saying they were looking into it and in the future, I should feel free to just call 684-ROAD.

But of course, this week the mess still littered the ground. So I pulled out the big guns, calling up city roads department spokesman Rick Sheridan. He said he would look into the situation on my corner and, impressively, the day after the call the bumper was gone though a few other car bits and the glass still sparkled on the ground. I'm not sure if a city crew picked it up or not.

It turns out cleaning up the streets and sidewalks is a little complicated. For the most part, Sheridan says, property owners clean up anything on the sidewalks--leaves, cigarette butts, and other naturally occurring or person-caused messes. The city handles the roads. But the rules change for an accident--the city takes care of any fluids. The tow truck company that hauls away the car is responsible for cleaning up the glass and car parts. Got all that?

Since clearly the tow truck cleaning didn't happen (maybe there never was a tow truck), it looks like tonight I'll be out there with a dust pan and broom, although on a cold night walking home, I have to say the shattered bits of bluish glass give the sidewalk the effect of being covered with sparkling snow. It's all quite lovely until the crunchy glass gets stuck in your shoes.

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