I Guess Seattle is a World Class City

345093753_94a53a3e99_m.jpgAppearing along side world class cities such as New York, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Paris, Seattle has been featured by the Project for Public Spaces as being one of the worst waterfront cities.

Seattle residents adore their scenic mountain vistas. But increasingly they are seeing them through windshields while stuck in gridlock on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway that divides downtown Seattle from the waterfront. The Viaduct’s future is now the subject of intense debate, due to doubts about its structural integrity. The road may require extensive reconstruction or be replaced with a tunnel. Over 100,000 cars use the Viaduct each day, and deciding its future will be far from easy, since some solutions involve shutting down sections of the central Seattle waterfront for as long as five years.

The situation is quite similar to what San Francisco faced in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which finally led the city to demolish the elevated Embarcadero Freeway. San Francisco made a difficult decision: They did not rebuild this busy artery. Today they are reaping the dividends with the greatest waterfront renaissance in the United States. Seattle could also make huge gains by taking down the Viaduct along the waterfront, and investing in transit service instead. The waterfront now feels disconnected from downtown, but the removal of the viaduct would open up new links between people and Puget Sound. Public destinations that are floundering today would flourish.

There. World. Class. I’m glad that’s settled.

Photo courtesy of croctommy.

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