Don’t Wait To Pull Down The Viaduct

As a critic of the Highway 99 tunnel, but one who thinks we’re probably stuck with it, I’m still hoping that Bertha gets itself* up and running again. I really do hope that whatever solution to the latest problem turns out to be the last fix. I’d also like to be more sure that Seattle won’t be on the hook for any cost overruns.**

Still, with this new revelation that the Viaduct is sinking, and with Bertha stuck for who knows how long, I say don’t wait on the tunnel to take it down. It’s — as ever — disconnecting the city from the waterfront. The main goal of zooming cars at unsafe speeds through a city their occupants hate has already diminished considerably during construction, without many of the traffic problems we were promised.

Yet, on the ground in the waterfront, it’s still not pedestrian or bike friendly. The bike/walking path below the Viaduct south of Yesler gets used by cars as a turning lane, and various parts of the waterfront sidewalk being blocked off at random push pedestrians into the road. These are normal side effects of construction, but they don’t have to be made worse by the delays to the tunnel.

If traffic is bad, then either mitigate it with more transit and better maintenance of surface streets or, I don’t know, get Bertha fixed. In the mean time, the people who use the waterfront on a regular basis don’t need to be in limbo.


* Also, am I the only person who refuses to call a piece of drilling machinery “her”? I don’t find it fun or whimsical, but I’m worried that that just makes me anti-fun and whimsey. Still, sticking with that.

** I will admit that so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s on the contractor.

Comments

  1. 1

    Pete spews:

    …The main goal of zooming cars at unsafe speeds through a city their occupants hate…

    Really? Seriously?

    Not sure where you get that 50 mph for a limited access highway is “an unsafe speed” – I haven’t seen that argument used since automobiles first replaced horses and buggies.

    But: “a city their occupants hate”????!! You do realize, right, that SR 99 is only limited access until Green Lake (to the north), and, depending on how you count, either Spokane Street or (gasp!) Burien and Tukwila to the South? People going “through” Seattle use I-5, not SR 99. The commuters, more often than not, get off downtown and don’t use the viaduct (unless it’s to go northbound to the Seneca downtown exit).

    The vast majority of viaduct users come from West Seattle, Ballard, Fremont, and related points. Much farther south or north and at most times of the day it makes far more sense to use I-5.

    And the assertion that someone who lives in Fremont or Delridge must, by definition, “hate” Seattle is as idiotic as it is offensive.

  2. 4

    spews:

    The main goal of zooming cars at unsafe speeds through a city their occupants hate has already diminished considerably during construction, without many of the traffic problems we were promised.

    It’s a minor quibble, but the morning commute on I-5 north into downtown has gotten considerably worse since last summer.

  3. 5

    Donut spews:

    @1 – don’t you know that only bus riding, car2going, bicycle riding Capitol Hill hipsters count as real Seattle people? If you own and drive an SOV, you by definition hate Seattle. Go McGinn!

  4. 6

    Chris Stephens spews:

    At some point we have to recognize that the structure has passed the tipping point, where the risk of operation exceeds the use. I would be interested in knowing how many of the WSDOT engineers, tasked with inspecting the viaduct, personally advise friends and family to avoid using the roadway.