Stop the viaduct, I want to get off

viaduct.jpgI’ve lived in this town for 12 years now. Seattle is my home. At times, it’s been a happy marriage, with warm and dry summer days, soft winter rains, a baseball team that occasionally wins, the water, the mountains, the music, the tattoos… such a glorious marriage.

But it is a marriage. And sometimes you wonder if your spouse is bats**t insane and why you didn’t pursue that furtive romance with Denver back in the day.

Right now, it’s a bats**t insane sort of time in my relationship with Seattle. And what finally put me over the top was Greg Nickels channeling Ronald Reagan… over the viaduct.

Nickels said a new elevated freeway would create a wall between Seattle and its waterfront.

Then, borrowing a famous Cold War challenge from Ronald Reagan to Mikhail Gorbachev about the Berlin Wall, the mayor said his message to Gregoire is, “Tear down this wall.”

I’ve had it, Greg. I’ve had it with you and your corpulent bloviating in front of the cameras and the media over your hyperexpensive and quixotic desire for a tunnel. I’ve had enough of it.

You want a tunnel? YOU pay for it. Go on, whip out your Seafirst Bank of America checkbook and write us a big check out of YOUR personal checking account. Because I don’t have the $6 billion it’s probably going to end up costing by the time it’s built and your little minion Tim Ceis’ back-of-the-envelope calculations make Rumsfeld’s “5000 troops by December 2006” look like a harmless point off a third grader’s math test because she forgot to carry the one.

You want to know what I think? No, of course you don’t. And besides, that’s the frikkin’ problem with this town. Everyone must have their turn for ten or twenty years of endless debate that fills up the airwaves and the court dockets and gets us right back where we started — nowhere. And meanwhile, you have The Stranger and the Weakly tilting at their half-baked windmills. Oh! Let’s build a monorail! No! let’s not! Oh wait, that idea wasn’t well thought out but it sure the hell ain’t my fault! And look, there’s Dan Savage and his merry band of Sancho Panzas washing their hands of it all in the same sink as Knute Berger!

But let me tell you anyway what I think, because damn it, I’m a Seattleite and I’m going to give you my opinion because I demand to be heard.

  1. Tear the goddamned viaduct down.
  2. Do all the multimodal work you should have done decades ago to hook the working port and industrial areas into rail and road.
  3. Make Alaskan Way into something like the Embarcadeo — with the Benson streetcar running down the middle of the boulevard, parking lots replaced with public parks, and a no-new-construction zone on the waterfront keeping Martin Selig and those other condo-building town destroyers from ripping down all that historic architecture.
  4. Lean on the state to fix traffic flow on southbound I-5 so I can get to the airport. You know, like MOVE THE DAMN 520 ONRAMP TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD SO WE CAN STOP THIS DAMN MERCER WEAVE CRAP. Or fixing it so there’s MORE THAN ONE TRAVEL LANE THROUGH DOWNTOWN. The state can do this, and it will be CHEAPER than the $15 billion the tunnel’s now going to cost because Tim “when I was a third-grader I never learned how to carry a one” Ceis didn’t know that CONCRETE ISN’T BROUGHT TO CONTRACTORS BY THE MAGIC BUILDING MATERIALS FAIRY WHEN THEY LEAVE A PIECE OF BRICK UNDER THEIR PILLOWS AT NIGHT.

See. Is that so hard? You have your pretty front porch of the city. You can have buses — and George Benson’s beloved streetcar — running right out in front. The Port can move its trucks. The buses will bring people downtown along with the Sound Transit light rail (Motto: Alderwood Mall by the year 2100 or 1% of your money back!). Growing, vibrant, beautiful. And for less than the Magic Building Materials Fairy will charge you.

Oh, and one more thing, Greg. Quit. Resign. Fire yourself. You have failed as a mayor and have made this town a political laughingstock. And if you’re not willing to quit, then go rob a bank or embezzle some money so we can use the state recall laws on you. It’s over, Greg. You have failed us all. You are the reason my wife, er, town is bats**t insane.

Greg, you’re the bats**t insane one. Tear down your own f**kin’ wall.

8 Comments so far

  1. kristen (unregistered) on February 15th, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

    Excellent work. Clearly leaving the rage on a long simmer improved the final quality, much like a delicious stew!

  2. Ryan (unregistered) on February 15th, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

    I very much enjoyed this.

  3. Cascadian (unregistered) on February 15th, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

    As someone who was born in Seattle 37 years ago, lived in the city for years, and currently lives in the suburbs, I almost entirely agree.
    I have no problem with new condos or other developments in the area, particularly if they’re taxed to help pay for the improvements that are needed. We also need a light rail line that connects from the Sound Transit line downtown to West Seattle and Ballard roughly along the monorail Green Line route. That way, people have an alternative once the viaduct comes down. That will cost money, but far less than a tunnel or a viaduct rebuild.

    Oh, and there’s no way to expand I-5 at its chokepoint without dismantling the convention center. Rerouting the 520/Mercer Mess would help, but that’s up to the feds and the federal government is out of money because of Iraq and Bush’s tax cuts.

    I also don’t think the folks at the Stranger are to blame, and the monorail was the wrong solution to a problem that no one else was addressing, but only because it should have been Sound Transit doing the project all along.

  4. Gary S (unregistered) on February 15th, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

    “Do all the multimodal work you should have done decades ago to hook the working port and industrial areas into rail and road. ”

    Nickels and other local leaders have done just that – and we are just now reaping the benefits of the work they did 15 years ago. The problem has always been funding these projects, as federal dollars have dried up, and as the state legislature only recently began to take the tough votes to keep revenues up with inflation, increased vehicle miles traveled, and crumbling infrastructure.

    “Make Alaskan Way into something like the Embarcadeo — with the Benson streetcar running down the middle of the boulevard, parking lots replaced with public parks, and a no-new-construction zone on the waterfront keeping Martin Selig and those other condo-building town destroyers from ripping down all that historic architecture”

    Traffic studies show that simply won’t work. The streetcar + street cannot and will not accomodate a fraction of the hundred thousand vehicles passing through this corridor each day and won’t even come close once when this region grows by another million people in the next 20 years.

    When the monorail did its ridership studies a couple years ago, the data showed very little people would take transit through the city along this corridor. If I recall correctly, there are no bus routes which run along the length of the AWV either. Furthermore, the street car is a tourist ride, not a means to move large numbers of people through a highly traveled corridor. Period.

    It’s fashionable for some to use the Embarcadero analogy, but the similarities stop there. The section of that elevated highway which was torn down used to be an on-ramp to the Bay Bridge. The NW section of the Embarcadero was simply transferred to U.S. Route 101.

    Indeed, similarities to the AWV are few and far between, except for the fact Mayor Agnos lost his job doing what Greg Nickels is trying to do now – yet history has judged him favorably, since the city got rid of that monument to the Interstate Era. It should also be noted that SF voters also held a referendum in 1987, and voted to keep the ugly Embarcadero monstrosity up. Nice to see we aren’t the only “progressive” city worshipping the car, the “view from the car” and the maintenance of large, ugly, noisy, polluting elevated freeways.

    And since the writer decided to throw Martin Selig into the mix, it should be noted that Selig has contributed the most money so far ($10k) to fight the Evil Mayor Nickels’ tunnel plan. Now, why would you want to demonize somebody who sits in your own camp?

    To all the tunnel haters: it’s great when you have an opinion. It’s even better when your opinion can be based on at least a hint of realism, and a pinch of facts.

    Take a look at what your Nickels-bashing will likely result in:

  5. josh (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 1:42 am

    I do enjoy it when you get nice and ranty, but I don’t think that it’s fair to blame the weekly newspapers for our transit woes.

  6. lisa jarrett (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 6:31 am

    Damn, you’re pissed. Take some deep breaths and relax…

    I must say that I like your ranting, so thank you. If people would have made a stand like the one you made years ago, maybe the transportation aspect of Seattle wouldn’t be as fucked up in Seattle as it is today… or maybe that was what caused the problems in the first place. Irk.

  7. chris (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    I don’t get the thing about concrete fairies.

  8. Dave Coffman (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    Real transit first then tear stuff down. About 40 years to get the right infrastructure in place and then lets have the conversation.

    Then again, our spineless Patty Murray and worthless Maria Cantwell could start acting like Senators and propose some transportation projects instead of whining “don’t expect anything from the federal government”. Patty can suck dead farts from my ass far as I’m concerned. She might be numero quatro in the Senate, but she’s useless.

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