Call me a curmudgeon, but this Southeast Seattle resident has grown to dread Seafair.
As a 16-year transplant I’ve never quite understood the local fascination with watching boats run around in circles, and even the thrill of the Blue Angels eventually wears out its welcome after years of having one’s house rattled by Navy jets. (If I had a nickel for every time the Blue Angels buzzed my backyard in full formation, I could buy myself a latte.)
Still, it’s not the annual festivities I begrudge, even if I usually choose not to participate. It’s the goddamn traffic.
My part of the city is normally blessed with multiple routes in, out and through the downtown, enough to cope with nearly any traffic situation, but for one weekend each year I might as well be living on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. Up over the hill to the East of me is the lake, where absolutely everybody else in Seattle is now headed. To the North, the main thoroughfares and the surrounding side streets from Lake Washington Blvd. to Beacon Hill Ave. and everything in between, are blocked by an impassable glacier of traffic. And my usual western route to I-5 and the many options of the Duwamish Valley beyond is transformed from a five-minute sprint into a 45-minute slog through a swamp of equally pissed off drivers.
Cut off from even local amenities, my only escape lies to the South, where I intend to head off soon, before the annual Seafair sclerosis clogs those arteries too
I mention all this not just to complain (though I do like complaining), but rather to make a couple points. First, mine isn’t the only neighborhood subject to occasional or even regular invasions due to special events or local amenities. I live walking distance to a couple of pretty spectacular parks on a lake, a luxury that is well worth the occasional street closure or traffic nightmare. So I have no sympathy for folks who, say, choose to live near the Woodland Park Zoo, and then bitch about the parking, or who live near Gas Works Park and fight planned concerts there out of concern about the crowds. I have empathy, but no sympathy. Like me, complain all you want… but then suck it up and deal with it.
Second, this is likely the last Seafair in which the northern frontier is virtually walled off from me. This time next year light rail will be operating through the Rainier Valley, providing yet another route in and out for us luck Southenders… a route mercifully not subject to the whims of local traffic. A route, by the way, that will prove a fast and affordable alternative for Seafair celebrants from outside the neighborhood, who’d rather avoid traffic than help contribute to it.
Keep that in mind this November when you’re asked to tax yourselves to extend light rail through other neighborhoods.