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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ultimate Viaduct Comment of All Time

posted by on February 20 at 13:23 PM

The rest of y’all have exactly 22 days to top this comment by Golob, which ran below my post about Gov. Gregoire’s rejection of the surface/transit option for replacing the viaduct.. Reprinted with minor edits and cuts for space. (Warning: Extremely high wonk factor ahead.)

SLOG Field Guide to Seattle Viaduct Debate

* Roadus Retrofittus

A curmudgeon who believes the AWV is absolutely critical, perhaps because of an ill advised decision in the past to move to West Seattle. Wants things to stay just they way they are. Possibly considers the Viaduct a work of art—like the leaning tower of Pisa — worthy of preservation in its current form.

Patron Saint:
Peter Sherwin

Typical Post:
“But not an issue if we just fix what we’ve got and build surface and transit for the future.”

At least 1 -12 comments per post.

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
The necessary seawall repairs.

Even if the structure is retrofitted above ground it’ll probably tip over during the next earthquake.

It’ll cost billions.

Secret Hope:
That everything in Seattle can stay exactly as it is and that all the newcomers can be scared off.

* Rodus Rebuilus


Believes that the AWV is absolutely essential, most likely due to an ill-advised decision to move to West Seattle. Considers using transit to get to and from work a fever dream of Kool-aid drinking cultists.

Other subspecies is a resentful non-Seattleite dealing with feelings of inferiority. Wants nothing else than to stick Seattle with a horrific monstrosity.

Patron Saint:
Christine Gregoire

Typical Post:
“You hippies! Without the Viaduct, cats and dogs will live together, frogs will rain from the sky, and my commute from West Seattle to Downtown could take as long as 20 minutes!

“Yes, so San Fransisco, New York, Milwaukee [other major urban area] has ripped down their viaduct and survived. Seattle is completely different from any other major urban area…”

3-6 comments per post

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
No empiric proof that Seattle needs a double-decker urban highway through downtown to function.

Every other urban area, large and small, that has ripped down viaducts and survived.

A new viaduct will have no views, be twice as wide and be finished right about the time gas hits $6 a gallon.

Secret Hope:
That everything can stay exactly the same for all eternity and that all the newcomers to Seattle get fed up and leave.

* Rodus Tunnelus

Want to keep their private driveway from West Seattle to Downtown, but also make everyone else happy.

Patron Saint: Mayor Greg Nickels.

Typical Post:
“This is nothing like the Big Dig.”

A dying species. At most one comment per post.

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
$4-8 billion before cost overruns.

Digging in brackish landfill at possible archaeological sites might prove problematic.

Tunnel ends at Pike Place Market and leaves Queen Anne and SLU cut off from one another.

Secret Hope:
That money grows on trees or Seattle voters are that gullible.

* Rodus Bridgus

Possibly has visited SF or NYC, and seen bridges. Willing to at least consider that some people need to drive, and a North-South bypass route could unload some traffic from downtown and the waterfront.

Patron Saint:
Jensen Inspector

Typical Post:
“The idea is to reclaim the land for parks, homes, business and transit, and NOT to completely surrender it to motor vehicles. This can only be realized by designing and building a cable stayed bay bridge.”

1-2 comments per Post

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
The Port of Seattle and Boeing Field

Idiocy of local politicians.

Secret Hope:
That WSDOT and the city can get their heads out of their asses long enough to at least seriously consider this compromise solution.

* Trasitus Surfusus
Most likely a newcomer to Seattle. Has at least visited places like New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco and used public transit. Possible has grown up in some urban shithole — Detroit, LA, or Houston for example — with a fantastic freeway system. May commute by walking, cycling or busing.

Patron Saint:
ECB or Ron Sims

Typical Post:
“The damn thing is going to be gone for a decade during construction and we’re all going to adjust. Why not just rip it down and spend the money on expanding light rail to places like Ballard, West Seattle, and points more distant? It’s worked in _____ {some other urban area}.

Generally the original post + 3-6 comments.

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
Idiocy of local politicians.

WSDOT is a *highway* building department

Washington State Constitution forbids spending of gas tax dollars on transit.

Secret Hope:

To live in Manhattan but with mountains — rather than New Jersey — next door.

* Off topicus

Has some other topic they really really want to talk about rather than the viaduct.

Patron Saint:

Typical Post:
“Darfur! People are dying in Darfur RIGHT NOW.”

“Slack jawed yokels are going to drive in circles on the Kitsap peninsula thanks to YOUR lawmakers!”

0 - 12 comments per post.

Key Fact(s) Ignored:
Uhhh, the Viaduct decision is coming up soon.

Secret Hope:
To get a post on Darfur or Nascar…

* Realist Defetus

Take Trasitus Surfusus and add 10 - 20 years experience with Seattle-area political process.

Patron Saint:

Typical Post:
“OF COURSE transit would be better, but…”

0 -2 comments per post.

Key Fact(s) Ignored:

Secret Hope:
That local politicians suddenly show intelligence.

Posted by golob | February 19, 2007 05:47 PM

RSS icon Comments


Nailed it.

I've all but joined the "nothing I say is going to make a difference so I might as well stop worrying about it" crowd.

Posted by monkey | February 20, 2007 1:35 PM

Geesh, Fnarf as the patron saint?

In the end, they all add up to tax subsidies of oil-based single-passenger vehicles. Thus, the least cost option that gives the most capacity is the best.

Which, since the politicos killed Surface Plus Transit - and they did - means the Viaduct rebuild is the wisest choice since it's the most easily upgradeable for transit.

As even the Gov admits.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2007 1:38 PM

Whether you like the description of your personal stance or not that is THE post on the AWV. Brilliant.

Posted by CameronRex | February 20, 2007 1:51 PM


Posted by pamelasittstaineddrapes | February 20, 2007 2:00 PM

I'm blushing.

Now if we could get Daniel Clowes to illustrate the various species, as another poster suggested, it would be perfect.

Posted by golob | February 20, 2007 2:02 PM

Great post Golob,

I think we're all slowing moving into the Realist Defetus camp.

At this point, it's hard to care after dealing with what's generously called the Seattle / State of WA political "process." Psychologists call it "learned helplessness."

All hail the glorious new Chopp Chopp Freeway.

Posted by Original Andrew | February 20, 2007 2:02 PM

As long as I get to be a saint, I don't really care what position you slot me under.

Posted by Fnarf | February 20, 2007 2:03 PM

Fnarf's talkin' dirty on the SLOG again MOM!!

Posted by Conejo | February 20, 2007 2:07 PM

I honestly have no idea what Fnarf supports, but figured he earned saint status.

Posted by golob | February 20, 2007 2:11 PM

beautifully done, golob.

i'm still hoping for a major news item to knock the viaduct off the slog for a few days.

Posted by kerri harrop | February 20, 2007 2:16 PM

Slack jawed yokels are going to drive in circles on the Kitsap peninsula thanks to YOUR lawmakers!

Posted by jamier | February 20, 2007 2:25 PM

So if you were a person who moved here recently and had no idea of the insanity of local politics or how unlike a big city it is, in spite of it's not-too-small size, and it's still way better than back home, but perhaps in a few years you might want to upgrade cities again,

where would you go?

Posted by Tiz | February 20, 2007 2:25 PM

I went to San Francisco.

Posted by Noink | February 20, 2007 2:39 PM

"where would you go?"


Posted by Cascadian | February 20, 2007 2:41 PM

San Francisco politics are ten times as annoying and divisive, over even smaller actual differences, than Seattle's. London is terrific if you inherit a hundred million dollars, or have a skill that the English will pay upwards of $250,000 a year (minimum) for. New York ditto. Boston's nice, but pretty expensive, too, and ridiculously standoffish; you are unlikely to be spoken to by a native until you live there five years. Most other American cities have simply brutal weather (Chicago), a soulless strip mall urban environment (Phoenix, San Jose, etc.), a criminal mindset (anyplace Floridian), or are simply beyond the Pale (anyplace Texas or Deep South). Portland's awfully nice but is a step down, not up, in size and homogeneity. If you go out of the counry you've got Vancouver (BC, not WA) but again your standard of living goes down. How about Melbourne, Australia? It's also no longer affordable.

Posted by Fnarf | February 20, 2007 3:01 PM

i was going to say that this was well-written, but the inherent bias means it could have been written by erica, and the only reason she was willing to post it.

sadly, the words "erica" and "well-written" are sunni-shiite-level enemies on this issue. facts ignored indeed.

Posted by jason | February 20, 2007 3:16 PM

London's great - if you want a car, no prob, so long as you're a billionaire. Otherwise, get in the tube, cause it's public transit, bay-bee.

That said, the NoLa refugees were a welcome addition at the Fremont Arts Council fundraiser Voodou Carnivale this weekend.

Jason - sorry, disagree.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2007 3:21 PM

oh, and I recommend Vancouver BC.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2007 3:22 PM

FNARF Wrote:
"If you go out of the counry you've got Vancouver (BC, not WA) but again your standard of living goes down."

Now Fnarf, as someone who enjoys Vancouver B.C. and is one of only three
or four Seattlites who can actually name the premier of B.C., I would like to know how you came to the conclusion one's standard of living goes down once you cross our northern border. Care to fess up?


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | February 20, 2007 3:26 PM

San Jose is the suburbs with tall office buildings. It dreams of having a soulless strip mall urban environment, since that would at least make it urban.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 20, 2007 3:36 PM

Vancouver BC has a higher cost of living, therefore, you would have a harder time finding equivalent housing and lifestyle accommodations than in Seattle.

Posted by laterite | February 20, 2007 3:36 PM

Trasitus Surfusus
Secret Hope: to teleport Vancouver 100 miles south where there isn't a single expressway of any sort within the city limits - think Shoreline to WhiteCenter without a single freeway or expressway! And, one or North America's largest ports to boot! forget Manhattan, SFO and even Portland, the best model is just a 2 hour drive away.

Secret Desire: to go kick the teeth in of the next Rodus Rebuilus that says that 'Seattle is completely different from Vancouver.

Posted by ho' know (West Seattle) | February 20, 2007 3:39 PM

When I finish up my MD/PhD, I'm angling for Boston or NYC for residency.

Residents aren't paid that well. Thankfully, New York is more than Manhattan. Depending upon which hospitals I'd have to deal with, I'd shoot for Hudson Heights, the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn. That's what makes real rapid mass transit so pleasant: one can live in a more affordable part of the region and still make it into work.

Heh. Jason, I can definitely state that I am not Erica, nor have I met Erica in person. She is also a better writer than I am.

Posted by golob | February 20, 2007 3:42 PM

Canadians earn less than Americans. Average GDP per person is quite a bit higher ($42k vs. $34k at PPP in 2005). For both Seattle and Vancouver, the average is higher than that, but the difference is still there.

Of course, there are tradeoffs, and you'll live in a smaller house but you'll have better health care.

I've lived in San Jose, without a car, no less; I know exactly what a crushing experience it is.

Posted by Fnarf | February 20, 2007 3:49 PM

Key fact(s) ignored: No empiric proof that Seattle would malfunction if the Stranger fired its writing staff and never published again.

Posted by Smarm | February 20, 2007 3:59 PM

Thanks for the input, I mean it.

For all the bitching about Seattle, just remember: you could have been born in Minneapolis, too, and on top of all the same tranist problems, had snow and bitter cold to deal with.

Posted by Tiz | February 20, 2007 4:02 PM

Yet here we both are, Smarm. : (

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | February 20, 2007 4:10 PM

FNARF Wrote:
"Canadians earn less than Americans."

Fer Chrissakes Fnarf, a pretty narrow set of criteria. What about some of Canada's and B.C.'s other assets?


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | February 20, 2007 4:29 PM

Golob, Let me get this straight, after you and ECB get the viaduct torn down the two of you are leaving town? - "When I finish up my MD/PhD, I'm angling for Boston or NYC for residency." :D

Posted by Peter Sherwin | February 20, 2007 4:49 PM

@28 - yeah, more cute girls/women ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2007 5:02 PM

I have a question about 520...

Did anyone notice the governor selected the six lane option?

How is I-5 south of the Ship Canal bridge NOT going to be a parking lot with three lanes of 520 traffic pouring into it, half of which are merging to the Mercer exit?

(Glancing at the plans, I didn't see any evidence that the 520 to Mercer merger mess is going to be fixed.)

Posted by Colin | February 20, 2007 5:13 PM

(Sorry, I'm hoping my post above is considered at least marginally on topic.)

Posted by Colin | February 20, 2007 5:15 PM

Heh @ Peter

Yeah, but only for a while. I'll be gone during construction. ;p The pleasures of training.

I acutally own a place (after a lot of saving and scary loans) on Capitol Hill where I intend to settle permanently.

(BTW, you nearly had me convinced there for a mini-retrofit while the light rail gets completed. Then I realized that no good idea will ever happen, and learned to love the bomb.)

Posted by golob | February 20, 2007 5:15 PM

Jensen, I included another benefit in my post. I'm not bashing Vancouver at all; I love it.

Of course, if I lived there, my own standard of living would quickly drop to zero, because I would be unable to control myself from eating at Vij's every single night until the money ran out and I was divorced, obese and homeless.

Posted by Fnarf | February 20, 2007 5:27 PM

Nah, lots of people do that, Fnarf. Not the homeless part, the eating out part.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2007 5:53 PM

Let's not forget when praising what an awesome place YVR is that it is facing its own massive highway plan imposed from on high.
Livable Region Coalition, fighting the good fight

Posted by Some Jerk | February 20, 2007 5:56 PM

WILL Wrote:
"@28 - yeah, more cute girls/women .."

Will, I am may be eternally flammed
for the following comments, and I am
donning my racing nomex now, however...

I have found women in Canada and
Vancouver B.C in particular, to be far better educated, much more cosmopolitian, fitter, more impressively coutured and damn more interesting to be with than their U.S., and in particular, Seattle counterparts. Yes, I do believe I am correct in stating, the grass IS greener on the other side of the fence.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | February 20, 2007 6:45 PM

FNARF Wrote:
"...eating at Vij's every single night until the money ran out and I was divorced, obese and homeless..."

Well Fnarf, please contact me when or if this occurs. I know of several cable stayed bridges, located in the lower B.C. mainland, under which you can find a home...and all close to 11th West.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | February 20, 2007 6:52 PM

The only time I have seriously doubted the superiority of the Canadian health care system is driving past one of those bridges, and seeing a homeless man getting up from an abandoned couch and pulling his pants up over the largest ass-cyst I ever hope to see...

Posted by Some Jerk | February 20, 2007 8:03 PM

Golub, that's genius. I want to be saint of my one-man category, Expatrius Fuckyallus (genus Zioncheckia Viviendus) but I realize that's asking for a lot. In answer to the question of where do you go? I am using Portland as my U.S. base of operations: it has the glorious anything-can-happen vibe of Seattle in the mid-90s, and is about as cheap as that yet with a sprinkling of new money restaurants and newcomers' ambition. Plus you can drink in the strip clubs. Unfortunately, be warned that many apartments went condo this summer and it is all but impossible to find an apartment right now - houses are readily available though if you can pull together enough people, and a good deal in almost any part of the city except NW. My long-term plans are focussed on Mexico City, which seems ungentrifiable. This does however, for Americans, require an independent, U.S.-based income, a couple years on the immigration rolls, a lot of pocket cash or a willingness to flout the law and get crafty. There is no cultural tension in Canada. While I am sure people's lives are quantifiably better there in a hundred ways, it is insufficient in the most important way: Canada will never produce an art form or a revolution, even when the U.S. invades them for their resources, which is about twenty years away. Canada is boring. (No offense.) And cold. If I want to freeze (and drink) myself to death I'll go to Reykjavik.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | February 20, 2007 8:29 PM

This is very clever indeed.

One thing about all of the West Seattle bashing though. In case you did not know this, West Seattle is a very big portion of the city's land mass (about 1/5th or 1/6th) and is comprised of about 40 different neighborhoods. It also includes several of the most affordable neighborhoods in the whole city. Everyone who lives in West Seattle (be it Alki, Admiral, Alaska Junction, Belvedere, High Point, Morgan Junction, Arbor Heights, Westwood Village, White Center, Delridge, etc. etc.) depends on the Viaduct daily. Many of whom ride the bus on the Viaduct daily. The quickest route is 15-20 minutes (Junction to 1st & Union, most of the rest are certainly longer bus trips.

You might think it was an ill advised decision for these 60,000 plus residents to move to West Seattle but I hope you can't be trying to say that all of these people should be expected to move out of West Seattle or face commute times that would be worse than living in Issaquah or Fall City.

It would be like bringing down I-5 if you lived in the University District, Wallingford, Freemont, Sand Point, Northgate, Lake City, Greenlake, Shorewood, Ravenna, Maple leaf, Hawthorne Hills, etc. etc.) Sure, everybody could take 23rd Avenue or Aurora but it would mean that it would take you a very long time to get there.

We could all move downtown or to Capitol Hill but if you think housing prices are bad now just wait until you have 60,000 additional residents to compete with. Another choice would be to lose your funky cool places like Cha Cha and Bimbo's to make way for more dense housing and add more stock in the center city.

West Seattle is not some tiny little part of Seattle. It will have great impacts on a large number of Seattle residents and their daily quality of life issues. People purchase homes based on some assumptions. Sure, those assumptions can change. But you are treating it like its a small little community of a few thousand people.

Posted by another jerk from West Seattle | February 21, 2007 1:15 PM

Hello guys!!!
Best for you :)

Posted by ParisSexHiltonS | March 1, 2007 1:10 PM

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