Sunday, October 30, 2011

Drama in Seattle

Phew, I'm exhausted. This week was trauma and drama in Seattle. The Alaska Way Viaduct was closed all week.  I believe most of my readers are Seattle natives, whether or not you currently live in Seattle, but a very quick recap for any who are not so lucky.  The AWV was built in the early 50s and since then has happily carried cars from North to South/South to North along the water with a BEAUTIFUL view (well at least the upper deck folks get a beautiful view).  Anywhoo, AWV blissfulness soured a bit with the after the 2001 earthquake when there was damage and people began to worry about 'the big one'. (People were probably worried before, but this was the first I heard of it.) Drivers now had to fear death if the earthquake hit mid trip. A bunch of downtown Seattle folks happily jumped on the bandwagon with a 'why do we have this monstrosity blocking our view  of the water' argument and 10 years and lots of pre trauma drama later, we are starting our new tunnel project. (Lots of pre trauma drama including a new mayor who ran primarily on a 'the tunnel sucks' platform!)    

The AWV was not a part of my life prior to moving to Beacon Hill. But, but since moving I have fallen madly in love.
  1. the view northbound is insane
  2. it gets one to Ballard with much less dodging and scooting around side streets than I5
  3. it's consistent. (I5 is very tempermental, sometime it will allow you to arrive in a timely manner, sometimes the traffic is a nightmare.)
So, with the impending closure, all of us South end folks were feeling a little gloom and doom in a 'the Apocalypse is coming' kind of a way. And we weren't disappointed. All week long we were oppressed by the drone of traffic helicopters looking for every traffic hiccup.  The first day traffic wasn't so bad, as I think everyone decided not to drive. Then as the week progressed, traffic got worse and worse.  By Friday there were 14 mile backups on I5 and trips into the city from close suburbs were estimate at 110 minutes or so. I know this, because after 4 days of waking up early and heading to 7am crossfit, I decided to sleep in and go to evening crossfit. So I got to spend an hour in traffic listening to traffic reports. I guess closing a highway carrying 110,000 cars per day is an issue.

Anyhow, they tore down half of it and opened up this strange detoured version of it that is guaranteed to slow things down and confuse people (I drove on it today and first couldn't find my entrance then missed my exit even though I saw the signs and was looking closely).

Many people seem to be nostalgic.  I don't have an sadness, as it is uglier than ugly, but I'll miss the dreamy lightning fast (exaggeration) convenience. Goodbye viaduct.          


james said...

It is great to see pictures of it. Last weekend I heard all about it on N.P.R.

Anonymous said...

I’ll miss the viaduct as well, sort of. Sure it offered breathtaking views of the waterfront (my favorite view being the year I was on it during the fireworks show over Elliot bay), and yes it is still the quickest way to Ballard from West Seattle. But have you ever looked closely at the viaduct? I swear the parts of it that remain are held together with duct tape and bailing wire. It’ll be nice to actually be able to enjoy the waterfront without the constant roar of traffic on the viaduct.

But I will admit I’ll miss watching the traffic on the viaduct from a cozy booth at the Athenian , sipping a beer and dreaming of a sunny day as a gloomy fall day dissolves around me…

tracy said...

so long sucker is what i say! should have happened years ago...