What's Up with That? Vandalized St. Johns interchange headed for cleanup

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Last summer there was a Columbian story about the reconnected Burnt Bridge Creek trail. It said those weird "welded wire walls" near the St. Johns overpass would discourage vandalism. Well, last time I went by there, graffiti was all over the place. To my eye, what was theoretically difficult to vandalise now looks extremely difficult to clean up.

So disappointing. What happens now?

—Beleaguered BBC fan

"It's frustrating, to say the least," agreed spokeswoman Heidi Sause of the Washington State Department of Transportation, the builder of the interchange and those weird walls.

Not weird enough to repel spray paint, apparently.

"The graffiti is an unfortunate problem that has plagued this area during the past few months; it's not just along the trail, but on the new interchange and the sound walls along SR 500 as well," Sause wrote in an email. "It's always discouraging to see vandalism on public property, and responding to this type of vandalism drains crew time and taxpayer funds — those are two very limited resources!"

Nonetheless, some of those resources will be lavished on a thorough cleanup this spring, Sause said. A state contractor will paint over the vandalized surfaces, including those extremely decorated sound walls and bridge pillars, as well as the welded wire wall that trail cyclists ride beside.

That welded wire wall won't be easy to clean thanks to its nook-and-cranny texture — which was supposed to make graffiti hard to accomplish here in the first place — but the sheer amount of graffiti that's spread all over the place is the bigger challenge, Sause added.

Volunteers are key to keeping graffiti and vandalism from winning the day, Sause said. "We get a lot of help from the amazing community volunteers who take the initiative and time to help tackle these types of problems," she said. "If any of your readers are interested in learning about what they can do to help keep the area clean, they should contact our local Adopt-A-Highway coordinator, Bill VanAntwerp: VanantB@wsdot.wa.gov."