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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Crosscut: Change is Scaaaareeeeey!!!

posted by on May 2 at 16:05 PM

In his “Mudville” column (get it? he’s at the bat?), former newspaper columnist and council candidate Casey Corr has a typically Seattle exceptionalist take on the news that traffic got better following the collapse of an interchange in Oakland. “Some,” he says (hmmm, who might he be talking about?) “are taking this as support for the argument that Seattle does not need another highway to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.” But Casey, as an old-time Seattleite, knows better. He knows (as longtimers around here are wont to “know”) that Seattle is just different than other cities. The rules that apply everywhere else—congestion breeds congestion, people will use transit if you give it to them, and removing highways forces people to find different ways to get around—just don’t apply in Seattle. Because of our geography. Because BART was free during the “crisis.” Because people in the Bay Area worked from home. (And we can’t do that here because…umm… well, just because. YOU HAVEN’T LIVED HERE LONG ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND!) And because “it’s not unimaginable that a truck carrying 8,600 gallons of gasoline could crash on I-5. And then what?”

Uh, I don’t know… People would find other routes, stay home, or take transit? But never mind. Best to use an entirely hypothetical disaster as a justification for keeping everything exactly the same forever.

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E- Im confused. The Mudville link takes me to a Rogaine ad. English is my second language so Im missing something here, I was looking to find some reference to Casey at the bat. I dont like Corr,once when he was handing lit in Columbia city he skipped over me cuz I was brown, bald and tattooed.

Posted by SeMe | May 2, 2007 4:23 PM

So, following this logic to its natural conclusion, if the destruction of one thoroughfare makes traffic better, wouldn't destroying all thoroughfares completely cause traffic to reach an ideal, perfect state? A state where the typical commuter arrives at work before they actually leave their doorstep?

That sure would be cool.

Posted by flamingbanjo | May 2, 2007 4:25 PM

I harumph in agreement.

Posted by jackie treehorn | May 2, 2007 4:26 PM

I want to believe that we don't need a freeway running along the waterfront, but I would really like evidence that's more credible than the hunches of the writers at the Stranger or the speculation of the PWC.

Corr's column doesn't say that the traffic patterns following the 580 fire don't apply to Seattle. He just states the obvious: that it's too early to tell whether the rearrangements were temporary or permanent. Sure, people can get by without a major route for a week. Those changes are easy. Long term changes are a bigger challenge and are harder to predict.

Posted by josh | May 2, 2007 4:26 PM

So Corr never worked for the Mayor?

... oh, wait, he did ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 2, 2007 4:27 PM

shut the death trap down NOW, and we will quickly learn what will happen in the ensusing months.

no one changes unless they are forced to.

Posted by maxsolomon | May 2, 2007 4:29 PM

So how is he wrong? Since you did such a fabulous job of straw manning his hypothetical throwaway example to death, ECB, you want to actually try and refute some of the other valid points Nickel's Bitch made, like the free BART thing and the Seattle topography thing?

Posted by Gomez | May 2, 2007 4:29 PM

I love the old guys, they just seem kookier and kookier as time passes them by and their importance fades away.

Posted by Transit Man | May 2, 2007 4:39 PM

I think it's funny that Casey doesn't actually link to Dan's post. Rather, he links to my post in which I quote Dan. Why not link to Slog, Casey?

Posted by Will of Horses Ass | May 2, 2007 4:48 PM

Casey's just trying to score some points with "the little guy".

Posted by Sean | May 2, 2007 4:49 PM

We accept that things will change, Erica. We just don't want the same changes that you want.

Posted by ivan | May 2, 2007 4:59 PM

Barnett, calm down. You are way over the top. There are no revelations in Corr's comments.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | May 2, 2007 5:00 PM

OK, SF has an on ramp destroyed and no traffic problems so we should be able to live without the viaduct. We don't need the transit they have, we can just do it. OK, let's shut down the viaduct on Monday - but noooo, PWC and ECB won't go for that because the surface options won't be ready - so ECB is saying that Seattle is different or not so much?

But as the Gov. announced the day after the vote she is moving ahead with a rebuild and it only took ECB and PWC six weeks to notice.

Posted by Kush | May 2, 2007 5:02 PM

@13 Moving ahead with the rebuild?

We should build transit before we destroy the viaduct, but we should destroy that eyesore, noise-magnet, death-trap

Posted by Transit Man | May 2, 2007 5:05 PM

As evidenced by today's University Bridge debacle, people aren't exploring other options. Maybe it was too late in the day for people to get on the ball and take the bus but traffic was pretty snarled last night during/after the May Day rally. I'm a big fan of the convenience and solitude my car offers and I wish mass transit was an option but I'm not going to ride the bus for an hour and a half (each way) from my house in the north end every day to get to work.

Clogging this city's transportation arteries doesn't do anything other than make rush hour longer and more miserable.

Posted by Jonah S | May 2, 2007 5:13 PM

You had too much coffee today. Your reaction is just nutty to that column. Save the rant for the real stuff.

Posted by Erica, calm down | May 2, 2007 5:17 PM

Here's an idea - shut down the stranger office and have all the workers telecommute.

And bad change is scaaaaaareeeey you know like when they close Bimbo's and Cha Cha and build a building with little balconies that are toooooo expensive for over the hill professions like newspaper workers.

Posted by Kush | May 2, 2007 5:28 PM

Show me the transit.

This city consistantly fucks up everything it attempts to do, and hasn't been able to come up with a mass-transit solution that passes the voters and makes it to completion and actually is capable of moving a signifigant number of people.

What are you forcing people to take? The buses are standing room only during rush hour. Even in your wildest dreams how many people who drive currently would (or would be able) ride a bike in this city?

Right now, other than walking, that's what we've got.

Don't talk to me about that stupid surface tranist that is going to be stuck in traffic, take a lane of transit (for blocks? blocking intersections?) further making the bus ride hell, don't bother talking to me about that 'option' until it is actually running. I'll believe that it's done on the day that's it's done and not a day sooner. When was the last time a project got finished in the US on time? What do you want to beet that within a short period of time fatal flaw will be found in it's construction and it will be shut down for a multi-gazillion dollar *fix* that takes months or years? If there were odds on that, I'd put all my retirement money on it.

Posted by K X One | May 2, 2007 5:29 PM

Sometimes you get the feeling that Erica wants to start all the transportation discussions by handing out burkas.

Posted by Yes, please calm down | May 2, 2007 5:34 PM

KUSH Wrote:
"Here's an idea - shut down the stranger office and have all the workers telecommute."

I did that at my business. I finally figured out we don't need a central office with people constantly e-mailing each other while only being separated by three feet. Nine people currently work from home and our gross margin increased. It made everyone rather happy at bonus time. Including me.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | May 2, 2007 6:08 PM

Ha Ha wanna bet that the stranger will be able to telecommute?

Hear them bleeting? How could we do the highly popular heard at the office or how could we all go the same restaurant and have half of us it trash it and the other half praise it (Dan counts as three or four) or share gross food favorites of ECB - I mean really! Now on the other hand, marine industry and manufacturing workers could easily work from home.

Posted by Kush | May 2, 2007 6:21 PM

I think most of the folks at the Stranger walk to work, Kush. BTW Are you tripping?

O. Casey Corr has a column? Please at least let the link go to it so we know what to avoid.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | May 2, 2007 6:52 PM

i still dont get the rogaine link. is it just random? or is casey bald? is that funny? because the next time i link to one of your articles, i'll be sure to link to vagisil.

Posted by frederick r | May 2, 2007 7:57 PM

"I think most of the folks at the Stranger walk to work,..."

Commuting is a complete waste of time
and energy. It can be better used to creating a proper profit....and/or watching after one's child at home or doing the clothes washing, etc. etc. etc.


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | May 2, 2007 8:12 PM

Fredrick R Wrote:
"i still dont get the rogaine link. is it just random? or is casey bald? is that funny...."

I too am not sure the reason behind that. Barnett, you are resonsible for the link. Please kindly explain why
it was linked to the Rogaine site.

Thanks Erica for your support.

--- Jensen

Posted by Jensen Interceptor | May 2, 2007 8:33 PM

Say what you want about the Viaduct. It's noisy. I'ts a death trap. You go ahead and hit your snooze button.

I'm a right now guy. A I-gotta-get-this-shit-done guy. I don't know about all of you, but I'm John Glenn on the goddamned Viaduct. A hundred thousand times in a row. And you're the better for it.

Now, what's for dinner?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | May 2, 2007 8:54 PM

Meanwhile, Seattle has a narrow, hilly topography and San Francisco has 15 transit systems, including the BART, which was provided free of charge following the overpass collapse.

I'm not letting the peanut gallery snow these points in defense of ECB this time. I'm expecting a retort that adequate explains why Seattle can tear down a major thoroughfare despite a topography that leads to limited arterials, and a lack of mass transit options.

Posted by Gomez | May 2, 2007 9:50 PM

They have it easy in San Francisco - isn't hilly, no water.

Posted by Ebenezer | May 2, 2007 10:13 PM

Gomez --

um, mebbe cause Seattleites are so devoted to process that nothing gets built until 20 to 40 years after it was needed? I dunno, just a wild guess.

That and, as Ebenezer notes, the lack of hills and water.

On a more serious note, maybe it has something to do with raw population characteristics. SF is the second most densely populated city in the US...with a density level 16 times greater than Seattle. The population of SF is crammed into a land area roughly a third the size of Seattle's. The population of the Metropoltian Statistical Area for SF is roughly double that of the Seattle MSA (and, again crammed into a smaller area).

So yeah, the infrastructure in SF beats the living pants off Seattle. And until we commit to building that level of infrastructure, we're a suburb on steroids.

Posted by gnossos | May 2, 2007 10:46 PM

Gnossos do you have a handy link for the pop densities? Not questioning just want to look at some others.

Grant must be difficult in that fog. The link to Crosscut is
you should love the satire on biking.

Posted by Kush | May 3, 2007 8:59 AM

the mislink was intentional because the stranger is miffed that another blog didn't link to slog. even though the stranger regularly doesn't link to other blogs (a few days ago dan even removed a link to seattlest). Addtionally, the crosscut column was original commentary and not a blatant lift of content. like that time erica was "fishing around" and found that "study" that was on the front page of the pi's web site.

Posted by it wasn't andrew sullivan... | May 3, 2007 9:34 AM

and in case people are going to want specifics: the strip club zone post by dan originally had a (via seattlest) w/ link at the end of the post; the "fishing" post was the april 5 "Holy Crap! An Earthquake" post; and actually now that i think about it erica's rant about atrios from yesterday also didn't include a link.

Posted by it wasn't andrew sullivan... | May 3, 2007 9:47 AM
SF is the second most densely populated city in the US...with a density level 16 times greater than Seattle. The population of SF is crammed into a land area roughly a third the size of Seattle's.

I lived in SF for 15 years, and it's not 16 times as dense as seattle. Seattle is not even twice the size of SF (47 sq miles vs 83 sq miles), and it's density is about 40% of SF, not 6% according to your statistics, which you just made up off the top of your head. Even Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, all WAY more dense than SF aren't 16 times seattle's density.

Most of the Bay Area is EXTREMELY flat land surrounded by hills. Oakland is mostly very flat, and south of oakland toward Fremont and esp. San Jose is just a huge (silicon) valley. SF itself is hilly and dense but the rest of the region is sort of like downtown bellevue or something.

Posted by Transit Man | May 3, 2007 9:49 AM

I will try to get back to this later, but I'm at work right now and don't have a lot of slog time. But I got all of the figures I used by doing a series pf googles on pop size and density

Transit Man -- on a second look, I see that the source I used for figuring size of Seattle included water (wtf?) and that's where I came up with the 142.5 sq miles vs. the 47 for SF. So, yes, in terms of land area Seattle is actually 83.

Posted by gnossos | May 3, 2007 11:17 AM

No traffic problems? What???
Just so you know, the view here in Oakland is about what you'd expect - the surface streets near the maze (the freeway interchange that lost a section) are clogged for miles during commute hours, and the traffic problems that were confined to commuters are now being shared with everyone who has a reason to drive anywhere in the area, especially the long-suffering folks who live near the freeway. Yes, Monday was not bad, but apparently things are back to "normal" now...

Posted by vespertine | May 3, 2007 1:37 PM

The land area of Seattle is only 84 square miles, so the density is a bit under 7,000 per square mile, depending on which population estimate you're using. That's way, way less than San Francisco, which is way, way higher -- a bit under 16,000.

That is, in fact, the second-highest figure for any large American city, and considerably denser than Seattle could ever be, even if we covered all of our land mass with the same style of housing, which ain't gonna happen. Seattle is simply built differently; our streets are wider, for one thing, and we didn't force our grid pattern over every inch of our hills like SF did. Also, while you can't count the water area when calculating land density, it does, in fact, make a big difference to mobility. SF proper doesn't have the ship canal, Green Lake, the same industrial zone, or the freeway cutting the city in half. SF is a tight square; Seattle is a set of four adjacent but not well connected long, narrow strips.

If that Wikipedia list is to be believed, Seattle is also less dense than Los Angeles, for a provocative instance.

San Francisco's metro-area density is also much, much higher than ours (four times? Five times?). This comparison is difficult to make, because you necessarily get into unanswerable questions about what places are part of which metro area, but large parts of Seattle's true metro area are, relatively speaking, only sparsely settled; eastern King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County all have "room" for many millions more people, and will be getting them soon. That's not true in the Bay Area, where the only unbuilt areas left are a hundred miles away.

Seattle is much more like LA than SF, in many ways. Adding a few condo blocks here and there isn't going to change overall density THAT much, and only in some areas. It's not going to put us at the Boston level, though we might conceivably match LA some day. It's certainly not going to affect the miles of surrounding communities that don't give a shit what Seattle thinks or does.

Your description of the Bay Area is disingenous, Transit Man. There are flat areas, but a more accurate description would be a big body of water surrounded on all sides by a narrow belt, with fingers heading into some areas, and a big wide area way to the south. The population, except for the big San Jose and points south part, is in that belt, and threaded around the hills (out to Concord, Mill Valley, the peninsula, the narrow stretch down to Hayward and Fremont, San Rafael etc. to the north, and the Delta). Expansion to the east is difficult terrain; to the south and north, beyond what's there now, is limited only by distance. You could almost say Seattle is the inverse of the Bay Area geographically (at least until the development encircles the Sound a lot more, which it is rapidly doing).

but, of course, any attempt to actually think about how cities are different or similar disregard's The Stranger's official "all places are the same, we can be Manhattan if we concentrate really hard" editorial policy.

Posted by Fnarf | May 3, 2007 2:01 PM

Erica, do you slam every media outlet that turns you down for a job? Now that is "scaaaareeeey"

Posted by You pee in your own pool a lot | May 3, 2007 7:35 PM

Hey, all you who just discovered Crosscut ...

Did you see the article from three weeks ago?

This part of the article seems pertinent:


... Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a master dealmaker, has predicted the shape of the ultimate compromise: a depressed roadway along the waterfront, probably six lanes wide, with pedestrian bridges across it to waterfront parks. Munro compares it to the Interstate 5 ditch through downtown. That's not very pretty, but it avoids the cost of a tunnel lid, puts the traffic a little out of sight through use of berms, and isn't a new viaduct. [Deputy Mayor Tim] Ceis dismisses this idea out of hand, saying that if you are going to build a trench you might as well put a lid over it. ...


Sounds like a tunnel to me. Any other opinions?

What rogaine ad? I got a viagra ad.

Posted by LoveYourViaduct | May 4, 2007 10:54 AM

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | May 2, 2007 8:54 PM

... Now, what's for dinner?

Ivar's will have a subterranean takeout window in the new tunnel, ala the transit tunnel/mall downtown. Seattle's newest rain-free tourist attraction. Including gravity-feed fresh Elliott Bay water on tap, for free. Drink all you want - once you find a place to park, that is.

Coming soon to a waterfornt near you ...

Posted by LoveYourViaduct | May 4, 2007 11:02 AM

For the billionth time, ECB, if you don't fucking like it, move to a place that takes your inane screeds seriously. I mean, you're here by choice, right?

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