Detectives from the Seattle police Arson/Bomb Squad are investigating after fireworks were found in construction equipment being used in a controversial road project in the Wedgwood neighborhood.
Crews have been repaving 35th Avenue Northeast since June in a project planned to include a bicycle lane and parking restrictions — prompting an outcry from some neighbors.
Construction workers were checking a backhoe July 23 when they found fireworks that had been placed in the machine with the fuse sticking out, according to the Seattle Police Department. Workers removed the fireworks and called the police.
Four fireworks were found on multiple pieces of equipment, and one of the fireworks had been lit, said Detective Patrick Michaud.
No one was injured.
Police found no additional fireworks at the construction site or other road-construction sites in the city, Michaud said. Police would only describe them as consumer fireworks.
A firm hired by the city to conduct community outreach for the project, enviroissues, temporarily halted work out of safety concerns, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) said.
SDOT has relocated the construction staging area and is taking other precautionary measures at this site, the agency said.
In another incident, vandals in June damaged equipment used to measure speed and traffic volume at four of nine locations on the street, SDOT said. The agency will replace the equipment at a cost of $120 each.
The plans to install a bicycle lane and remove parking on the west side of 35th Avenue Northeast have drawn intense criticism from a coalition of residents and business owners.
It says the project will increase traffic congestion and harm businesses that rely on street parking. The opponents have repeatedly lobbied SDOT, City Council members, the mayor’s office and state representatives to halt construction.
The construction worker who reported the fireworks told police that the project had drawn “opposition from the public” and that “he frequently faced verbal abuse from passers-by,” the police report said.
Gabe Galanda, an advocate for the group opposing the project, said his organization knew nothing about the fireworks or vandalism and has not engaged in such actions.
“We have denounced that behavior and urged our coalition to report any wrongdoing to law-enforcement authorities,” Galanda wrote in an email to representatives for the mayor’s office, SDOT and others.
He went on to blame the city for heightening tensions by failing to consider his group’s concerns.
“If anything, the complete void of city leadership in Wedgwood-Bryant this year has catalyzed folks to take matters into their own hands,” he wrote in the email to city officials.