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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1950s Highways Are Not the Only Way

Posted by on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 11:45 AM

This morning, Ron Sims retweeted this link from about the other Portland:

Maine DOT is in the process of rebuilding Interstate 295 through downtown Portland, section by section, and a portion of the road that separates the city from the waterfront might be a prime candidate for a highway teardown.

Could it happen? C Neal at Rights of Way points out that Portland has already begun relieving itself of some 1950s road infrastructure, and “so far, drivers have hardly noticed the difference.”

Of course our situation is totally different and just going with a surface and transit solution on the waterfront would never have worked in Seattle because we're a west-facing city and not an east-facing city like Portland and so on and so forth. But it's always nice to have a reminder that the infrastructure of the 1950s and 1960s is not a sacred thing. It wasn't placed there by a benevolent god. It's something that we did without, and it's something that we got used to. There are other solutions than these giant concrete strips we slapped everywhere just because Dwight Eisenhower told us it was the right thing to do.


Comments (20) RSS

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Fnarf 1
Portland, ME is a cute town and all, but seriously, nobody lives there. And nobody needs to go through there to get to the other side. It's barely bigger than Redmond.
Posted by Fnarf on February 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 2
Population: 66,000. Puget Sound Metro population: 3,492,028.

Dear Stranger,

Please find something relevant to write about.

Posted by wilbur@work on February 19, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Exactly, it's not like some similar city like Vancouver, BC, did that and invested in more functional transit instead.



... maybe we should kill the unfunded Deep Tolled Tunnel and it's lower capacity Highway For The Rich with it's Ten Dollar each way tolls for all but the millionaires and billionaires in their exempt "green" limos?
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Fnarf 4
@3, Vancouver tore out a downtown freeway, eh?

You're a piece of shit, Will. Don't ever forget that.
Posted by Fnarf on February 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 5
Okay, let's substitute San Francisco for "Vancouver".

Welcome to the piece of shit world, Fnarf.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on February 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
#1 - actually, lots of people drive through Portland, ME to get to South Portland and Cape Elizabeth - home to some of our most popular state parks, beaches, and lighthouse tourist attractions. Granted, it's nothing like Seattle-level traffic, but it does cause headaches. Unless you want to travel far out of your way, the only way through for drivers from the north and west is through the heart of Portland and across a single bridge. This bridge is a drawbridge, and Portland is a fairly busy harbor, which further exacerbates the traffic problems.
Posted by catsnbanjos on February 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Sore losers aren't you?
Posted by Sugartit on February 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 8
@5 - Except Fnarf wouldn't state that SF didn't tear down a freeway on their waterfront. He's reacting to the fact that WiS is completely full of shit like always.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on February 19, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
Yes, for very small values of "lots".

This argument works both ways, you know. You could just as easily say "Dubai gets along just fine without a federal income tax, but I'm sure the US is SO SPECIAL that it doesn't matter what other countries do", or "why does Seattle need a light rail system? Kettle Falls doesn't." It is designed to blow off the need to make a real argument for whatever it is you're proposing -- or pooh-poohing.
Posted by Fnarf on February 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Fnarf 10
@5, as @8 points out, that's not the argument I made, and it's not the argument WiS made either. Will is incontrovertibly full of excrement; it's a well-established fact. But hey, if you want to line up behind him, go for it.

If you want to debate what happened in San Francisco, I'm going to have to disappoint you, as I am far too bored to thoroughly rehash that one. Suffice it to say that SF didn't really tear down a freeway; they tore down a really long on-ramp. The Embarcadero Freeway didn't go anywhere. And they replaced it with...nothing, which is what we're going to get on our waterfront too. Yippee.

And of course the Central Freeway, and the 101, and the 280 -- the roads that do the real work -- are still there, viaducts and all. Hmm.
Posted by Fnarf on February 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
In Eisenhower's defense, he never envisioned the interstate system going *through* cities, but rather to link the states and build a coast-to-coast network.
Posted by IkeWasn'tAllBad on February 19, 2013 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 12
@4 see the thing is, you've never lived on Van, so you have no idea how we actually changed the GVRD highway system over time, or what was done.

Watch the vid and realize your precious Deep Tolled Tunnel of Doom is just a money pit for the rich, subsidized by you.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 19, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
@10: As much as I hate for Will to be right-ish about anything ever, it is in fact true that Vancouver obstructed encroaching urban freeway plans in the mid-20th century, and that the "real work" of bringing people and goods into, around, and through the city -- including in cars and trucks -- is accomplished using a well-designed grid and infrastructure that diffuses traffic rather than concentrating it upon a single limited-access ribbon.

You seem to be suggesting that once a mistake has been made, traffic patterns are immutable and that mistake must be reinforced in perpetuity. But the experiences of Seoul and the west side of Manhattan dispute you.

As does your own Central Freeway example in San Francisco, itself an off-ramp doing heavier lifting than the Embarcadero Freeway ever did, but one that actually sows its own gridlock by concentrating demand that would otherwise find diffuse routes away from Market or Van Ness. Meanwhile, the 1/4-mile that they deleted from the Central Freeway and turned into a manicured boulevard and a p-patch has in no way worsened traffic to the remaining portion, and has left the Hayes Valley a veritable urban paradise in its absence.

Posted by d.p. on February 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
See, even now we could deep six the Terrible Tunnel Of Doom if we wanted, as @13 rightly points out.

But that would be .. prudent.

I'd be willing to pay an extra 10 cents a gallon for gas and a GVW/odomoter license fee for vehicles (including out of state trucks, measured at the border bridges) so long as they kill that lower capacity, quake-trapping, battalion-drowning, carbon-spewing monster from hell.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 19, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Whoops, I forgot about the longer branch of the Central Freeway, which went as far as Turk Street in the Western Addition. The viaduct was cut back by 3/4 of a mile, not just 1/4.
Posted by d.p. on February 19, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Hayes Valley is much changed. It's almost stunning how much nicer it is with the boulevard.
Posted by MvB on February 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
It takes forever to get from point A to point B by car in Vancouver due to the lack of freeways. I hate driving up there from Seattle, since once I get into town it is one red light after another.
Posted by WestSeven on February 19, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Hey! I have relatives who lived in Portland, ME! And they have same sex marriage! And lobsters! And RedSox fans! And like Seattle, Portland is a beautiful city on the sea!
Posted by pat L on February 19, 2013 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
@17 that's because you try to drive thru Vancouver. Take SkyTrain and stop resisting.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 19, 2013 at 11:50 PM · Report this
Having heard stories about what happened after the Nisqually quake, I expect that once the viaduct comes down it'll be quicker for me to drive to the U District from the suburbs than it will be for someone to commute there from West Seattle by any mode of transport. By rejecting a new elevated structure as a solution, and thus opting to cut off a chunk of the city, the anti-sprawl movement has essentially cut off its nose to spite its face.
Posted by Orv on February 20, 2013 at 12:11 AM · Report this

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