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'Ratpocalypse' continues to plague downtown Seattle during tunnel project

By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   Aug. 22, 2013 at 2:11 PM   |   Comments

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Aug. 22 (UPI) -- As Seattle continues its Highway 99 tunnel project beneath downtown Seattle, rats and cockroaches have been steadily emerging from the ground.

"Both the roaches and the rats like it quiet and like it dark, and I know the shaking of the ground is affecting their behavior," says Mark Schmidt, district manager for Sprague Pest Solutions.

And Schmidt said that what his company calls "ratpocalypse" will only get worse. His company services more than 300 commercial properties in the downtown area. Schmidt said that the business has seen up to an 80 percent jump in business since the start of the construction project.

"We saw specific events, days where the posts went into the ground, five blocks away we were getting roaches on the 17th or 21st floor," he says.

Washington Department of Transportation project managers say the problem should subside soon, since most of the vermin have escaped the ground. The tunnel will operate below sea level, which is far lower than where the rodents live.

But Schmidt said that as the drill moves north, more creepy-crawlies will be scrambling.

"You're still making a 3.5 earthquake every single day. It's going under some very old dirt and it's going to shake the core of Seattle. So I think it's going to shake a lot of rats out," he says.

The project -- and accordingly, "ratpocalypse" -- will likely continue for the next two years.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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