Science The Greater Seattle Commute Experiment
posted by July 27 at 13:06 PMon
If you’ve ever wondered what the Seattle metro area would be like if drivers were less coddled, I present to you the I-5 Spokane Street to I-90 Bridge Repair.
The work on northbound I-5 will require some of the most extensive lane and ramp closures Seattle drivers have ever seen. I-5 will be reduced to two or three lanes during the daytime, and sometimes just one lane overnight, during the intensive 19-day period, Aug. 10 through 29…
Drivers will likely face lengthy backups and significant delays on freeways and city streets from 4 a.m. to midnight. Traffic will be the worst during the morning rush hours. The August construction lane closures will create long backups on northbound I-5 and will push traffic onto other routes, including city streets in Georgetown, SODO, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill. WSDOT anticipates I-405 and State Route 99 will be popular freeway alternatives. Trucks will be encouraged to use I-405, East Marginal Way South and Airport Way South.
Backups and delays will not be limited to the Seattle area and south end; they will spread to the Eastside. We expect the typical morning congestion on I-405 to extend throughout the day. Many more trucks will be using I-405 during this construction. Other drivers will also choose I-405 as an alternate route.
Will the city continue to exist when thousands of solo-drivers are faced with getting on a bus, taking a train, using a water ferry, walking, or cycling to work? How will people adapt? Just how unsustainable is ‘driving until you qualify’ for a suburban McMansion? Does car capacity matter—or is it more commuter capacity? What is the local climate impact of all the cars?
This is basically a wonderful prospective study of these questions—provided the data is collected. It’s even more informative because only one direction of I-5 will be closed. Much like when the Viaduct closed after the earthquake, we can get a peek into what a very different Seattle would be like. I’m so excited!
In fact, this reminds me of one of my all-time favorite climate change papers, taking advantage of the mandatory grounding of all commercial aircraft from September 11th to 14th in 2001:
Some researchers have speculated that persisting contrails exacerbate “global warming” in areas where they most frequently occur…Previous attempts to identify a contrail effect in the climate record have been based mostly on circumstantial evidence…
These results support the hypothesis that the grounding of all commercial aircraft in U.S. airspace, and the consequent elimination of substantial jet contrail coverage during the 11–14 September 2001 grounding period, helped produce an enhanced surface DTR in those areas that typically experience the greatest numbers of jet contrails during the fall season (e.g. the Midwest).
What questions do you want answered from the great I-5 shutdown of 2007?