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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another Viaduct View

Posted by on September 13 at 16:35 PM

If, as I proposed the other day, the Stranger News Team, like the Arts folks, handed out Genius Awards, another candidate in the “Political Group” category (last time I nominated Congress for the New Urbanism) would be Sightline.

Check out the latest post on the Viaduct options by Sightline stud Clark Williams-Derry

Here’s a snippet from Williams-Derry’s Viaduct brain:

And there are at least 2 other major options out there that voters could consider: shoring up the existing structure, rather than replacing it; and using a combination of street and transit improvements to replace the viaduct’s capacity, without rebuilding a highway.

I don’t think much of the former option — as I understand it, most seismic engineers who’ve looked at it have said that the whole structure is seismically vulnerable. Perhaps voters would be willing to forego safety concerns to save a billion or so; but it’s not something I’m too comfortable with. (See the comment thread here for more.)

But the second option seems very much alive in my mind. Especially because of this (pdf link): the state’s plan to “Keep People and Freight Moving During Construction.” Basically, the viaduct will be closed for anywhere from 18 months to 4 years during construction. And the state has laid out a series of steps to deal with traffic during the interim, including:

improving transit access, and expand water taxi service, from West Seattle to downtown
boosting transit by adding more bus routes, bus stops, and bus priority streets
shift event times at the stadiums and Seattle Center to avoid clogging traffic
improve traffic throughput north of downtown, especially at Mercer and Denny
boost park and rides north of downtown, to reduce car travel into the center of the city
So if that sort of thing — improving streets and transit — will keep us moving for up to 4 years, couldn’t it last for longer? Seems to me that switching some money from the viaduct reconstruction budget to an even more robust streets and transit plan could do even more to maintain mobility — but still save a billion or more, compared with even the lowest-cost of the highway options.

CommentsRSS icon

It doesn't matter what the people of Seattle want because neither a replacement viaduct or tunnel will ever be built. There are too many agendas, attorneys and lawsuits in the waiting. This is the city that never met a challenge it couldn't further discuss. Prediction: in 10 - 15 years the current structure will be gone, with adjustments to the surface grid and existing traffic corridors as a replacement. Olympia will be busy building a multi-lane replacement for the 520 bridge.

Noone ever considers my alternative: build a 10-story tall monorail, and then suspend the existing monorail from it, with lots of balloons to hold it up, and duct tape.

Lots of duct tape.

Hey, at least then you'll be able to grab onto a balloon when the earthquake hits.

But let's talk about it until 2050, shall we?

Cynically, I think the next earthquake (it'll only take a high-five) will settle this decision. When the AWV comes crashing down, it'll be replaced with most likely nothing.

Fine by me. I'd just like to tear it down rather than crush commuters.

No one ever considers MY alternative plan:

Build a monorail from Rick's in Lake City through the Sands to Showgirls downtown and call it the Pink Line. 15 miles of titties!

And the funny thing is that would actually be a pretty good route.

Well, at least there's some sort of an outline for a meantime no-viaduct plan on the table.

I'd still like to see some specifics, and perhaps a dedication to an effort to advertise to the public the merits of transit options (the one thing cities never seem to do, and then we wonder why people hate the bus), before I can get anywhere near the no-viaduct bandwagon.

Ahhh, isn't the second option very similar to what the People's Waterfront Coalition has been working on for a couple of years now?

I like Aexia's plan.

the L. Ballard comment seems probable; the "pray it stays up" option will be choosen by default. (are you the actor?). SR-520 may be at greater risk.

as I have posted here before and written the Council and WSDOT, the four-lane bypass tunnel should be affordable with the funds on hand and would have all the urban design benefits of the unaffordable six-lane tunnel. it would have some surface improvements too. dynamic tolling and ramps between Western and Elliott avenues could be added; a signal may have to added southbound at intersection of Elliott Avenue on ramp and southbound lanes. there are several signals on East Marginal Way (SR-99); we need not have a 70 m.p.h. freeway on the waterfront; are we concerned about CO2 and global warming or not?

the demand for through trips would be reduced by dynamic tolling; the law of demand cannot be repealed.

Seattle learned this in the 1970s with WPPS; higher electric rates reduced demand and the need for nuclear power plants. dynamic tolling of limited access highways would reduce the demand for sprawl-inducing capacity.

the elevated rebuild is unacceptable and would be the big ugly.

"the elevated rebuild is unacceptable and would be the big ugly."

Utter b.s.

Go to my link above.

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