Features

Opinions on the Viaduct Are Like Assholes—Everyone Has One

Readers React to the Call for a Double-No Viaduct Vote

LMN Architects / Mithun

We didn't have room in the paper for the dozens of letters we got in response to Erica C. Barnett's "No and Hell No" feature.

ERICA BARNETT = RALPH NADER

It's ironic to consider the Stranger's long held opposition to Ralph Nader voters considering the position Erica Barnett is taking on the viaduct replacement. Just as Ralph Nader tipped the election to George W Bush in 2000, The Stranger and the People's Waterfront Coalition threaten to tip the election towards a Viaduct rebuild. Perhaps the collapse of the monorail made the Stranger bitter and it has lost its pragmatism? Just as in 2000 we will have 2 defacto choices in the March 13th election- rebuild or bypass tunnel. The rebuild option is clearly the George W Bush of options- an urban planning disaster that will turns up it's nose at any sort of progressive transit stance in Seattle for the next 100 years. The bypass tunnel option is clearly Al Gore- a compromise solution that is doing it's best to be progressive and reclaim the city for pedestrians and transit while still meeting the stupid capacity requirements imposed by the state ( e.g. the non-urban archipelago troglodytes in Stranger terms). Yes, we can vote "no" on both options, but it won't matter- most people are going to vote "yes" on something and the momentum will clearly fall in line behind the leading vote getter. Even if the final results are 40% rebuild and 30% tunnel there will be a rebuild- proponents will correctly claim it is the most popular option and that not rebuilding is a safety and economic risk. The mayor will have no ground to stand on in opposing the rebuild and we will be stuck with viaduct that is 50% wider than the one we have now. The bypass tunnel begins with opening up the waterfront to pedestrians and can be easily be improved through measures like high capacity-based tolls on single occupant vehicles, driving transit use and carpooling. It is the only pragmatic progressive path forward and we must be unified behind it.

Eric Fisk

ALLIED ARTS CONTESTS THE RECORD

Erica Barnett's "Allied Arts Lobbies Surface/Transit Supporters" misunderstood an important point of mine in the latest Allied Arts e-newsletter. Barnett's article states that I "claim that surface/transit supporters like the People's Waterfront Coalition and the Sierra Club 'have been inspired' by the mayor's (Surface-Tunnel Hybrid) proposal."

Not true. Rather, I wrote this: "...the People's Waterfront Coalition (PWC) and the Sierra Club have been inspired by the 'Surface & Transit' proposal"-a commonly used term for the "Transit + Streets" proposal advocated by PWC on their website.

Reporters should bring both heat and light to an issue. When Barnett sees my sincere praise for PWC and the Sierra Club as condescending, she's merely cranking up the heat.

Barnett needs to analyze both audiences the viaduct replacement faces: Seattleites and car-crazed Olympia legislators who want to stick it to the city. Right or wrong, the Surface & Transit proposal has always been seen in Olympia as a far-left/green proposal. In large part that's why the Legislature has said that they wouldn't fund or support it. That's why it's politically dead.

I was both surprised and inspired to learn that the Hybrid Tunnel would incorporate proposals made by PWC and the Sierra Club. If anyone would have told me a year ago that the final version of the tunnel would decrease the number of lanes on SR99 by 33% (6 down to 4), include making 3rd Avenue as a permanent transit corridor and add 21,000 new bus riders daily from West Seattle and Ballard, I would have said "good luck and don't hold your breath." The values of the PWC and Sierra Club certainly reflect those of many environmentally minded Seattleites: creating more transit and encouraging people out of their cars are good ideas. Unfortunately, following Ms. Moon's advice to vote against both the new viaduct and the Hybrid Tunnel makes Seattle even more vulnerable to the will of Olympia and legislators with whom we share few values. Ms. Moon's advice, then, is a lot like my friends' advice to vote for Ralph Nader in 2000: They said that there is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans; vote for Nader to take a stand. A lot of Greens in Florida followed that advice which is why we got President Bush and war in Iraq. I'm hoping that the Greens in Seattle don't inadvertently vote against the Hybrid Tunnel, only to wake up one day with a bigger viaduct.

Laine Ross

President, Allied Arts

A LONGTIME READER

Ms Barnett: I have lived in Seattle since I was 18 years old and the entire time have been a Stranger supporter and fan. Just to set the stage I am 28, work in the Pike Place Market, volunteer at KEXP, and live on the pike/pine corridor. While almost always I agree with the Stranger's view of local politics, and affairs I have to disagree with your stance on the viaduct. I know it is easy to say, "people just don't drive," but that is ridiculous. Haven't you seen the movie Singles? In your article you said Metro estimates 21,000 new people will ride the bus as a result of construction. This from the same organization who couldn't even get the correct size of rail right for the bus tunnel. I agree the pollution of automobiles and the warming of the globe are serious and impending issue in our world, (I walk everywhere) but people are going to drive in Seattle. Driving is how people transport themselves all over the region.

My father owns a business in Pioneer Square, he is for the tunnel. In fact he was on the merchants committee for the tunnel. That's right! There were so many merchants in downtown for the tunnel they formed a committee for it. In your article you said that waterfront would be inaccessible for three during construction for the tunnel. Come on. Do you really think the state is going to let all of those business go belly up? That's not the tune my father was singing. Not once did you ever point out what this would do to West Seattle. How are all of the those people going to get into downtown. No viaduct/tunnel would ruin the property value in West Seattle and create so much congestion coming in and out. This is something near and dear to my heart having worked all my life to buy property in West Seattle.

What about the ailing sea wall that lines the waterfront? According to my father tunnel or no tunnel it is going to have to be replaced. With a tunnel it would be a one shot deal. Do the waterfront and downtown business owners want a grand waterfront boulevard with all the extra traffic on it and no parking spaces? No! Not according to my father and his associates on the committee. If there are no parking spaces, massive traffic congestion, etc, people are just no going to come to downtown. People will do business elsewhere where it is convenient. Putting pressure on all of the businesses that make Seattle's downtown so cool and diverse will be to relocate to where people can access them.

Matt Ottenbach

MERCI

Thank you x1,000,000 for your Stranger cover story this week. Here's hoping the vote comes out.

J.

YOU MAKE NO SENSE

Dear Ms. Barnett: This newspaper decision to neither endorsing any alternatives to the viaduct doesn’t make sense. Simply put, when that viaduct goes down, all the traffic that goes on that highway will transfer to I-5, no matter what surface, traffic, or transit improvements occur. This won’t convince folks to forget driving their cars. Moreover, most the cars that go though Seattle are from the suburbs, not the city. Also, why should I see my tax money spent so that some waterfront condominium owner can have an unobstructed view of the Sound? Ya’ll folks should start waking to reality. Let’s replace the viaduct with another one.

Gerald F. Shields Jr.

PROPS

Erica: I thought your Feb 22nd article on the Viaduct Measures was excellent. Thanks for the good journalism.

Dan

COVER WAS A BLUNDER

I fully support the No/No vote. Building a new elevated structure is criminal. But how could The Stranger place an image of a brand new modern clean and EMPTY viaduct with blue skies on the cover? Considering transportation mobility is the #1 issue by the masses, this free advertisement of a dreamy congestion-free viaduct was a shortsighted blunder.

Mr. Motoki Nagasooki

AN ONION OF CONFUSION

Well, nice to see that Erica Barnet (“Vote No and No”) has added another layer to the confusion of the Viaduct Rebuild or Tunnel debate. Just what we needed, a third proposal. So now we have the Viaduct solution, the Tunnel solution, and the No solution. After dedicating so many paragraphs to the problems with the two potential solutions facing voters in March, it would have been nice if she could have offered at least one to her own. Beyond just "putting more busses" on the street and making some streets "from 1-way to 2-way" it's inconceivable that even fools believe this would cause the drawing at the end of the article to be a reality. The one taken from the floor of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I do agree with her that both current options suck and that we need a modern solution that takes the environment into account. That's why it surprised me that she actually, inadvertently, passed the ultimate solution and seems to have missed it. She mentioned San Francisco, among other cities, as example of a forward thinking transit system. Well, she must never have been there because the bus system is a nightmare. Packed busses pass by waiting commuters all the time and sometimes it almost seems a relief, as they are grimy, old, run by some of the most hostile drivers one can find anywhere, and did I mention--packed! But it's the transit you don't see which she should have dedicated half her article to. That would be BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit.) That wonderful high speed electric train that began when I was a kid in the late 1970's and has expanded to go over 34 miles east to Dublin (including a zip through a tunnel beneath the SF Bay), over 14 miles South to Millbrae (including a stop at SF airport), close to 40 miles south/east to Fremont, and another 40 miles north all the way to Pittsburg and Richmond. In other words, the entire San Francisco Bay Area, a far larger and more populated area than Seattle, is connected by a gigantic, fast, clean, efficient spider of connectivity that is unlike anything I've seen in the 12 cities I've lived in. The electronic ticket system, the speed, the elegance and the clean emissions of this system have become something that together are one of the prime reasons for the economic and social health of the area. I can't think of any city in the union that would be more suited for such a solution, as Seattle is a long, skinny town with the need for only one fast North/South artery, supplemented with perhaps one or two East/West perpendicular veins and a system of quick, shuttle type capillaries to carry riders from the main north/south vain the couple of miles (max) east/west that would be required to literally hit every part of Seattle, every couple hundred feet. In her defense, Erica is half right. Unfortunately, without even attempting to spell out a cohesive alternative, she makes her argument a moot point. We shouldn't be arguing about two primitive solutions, or throwing more money at a system that isn't working. We should put everything into building PSRT (Puget Sound Rapid Transit), a sister to BART. Even the acronym seems natural for our region. Kind of a hissing, dismissive, disapproving snort.

JB

WEST SEATTLE PERSPECTIVE

Improving the road system is not "giving up", as Erica Barnett says - it is giving people what they want. She and her fellow public transit fetishists should look at the clear evidence that the people of this region are not going to get out of their cars, e.g. the clogged commutes on I-5 where people could presumably take the Sounder instead.

The distribution of jobs and people in this region is based on commuting by car. I know this will come as a shock to the staff of The Stranger, but there are thousands of people that commute from Seattle to points out of town (mostly to the east) every day, and the automobile is and will continue to be the best way to make that commute.

If your concern is reducing emissions, you should be lobbying for cleaner cars (achievable) instead of attempting to sabotage the roadways in the hopes that people will choose transit (a pipe dream).

What is the plan after the viaduct is removed and not replaced, and auto congestion is worse than ever - tear down I-5? Sink the floating bridges?

Jeffrey Russo

I SMELL A BUBBLEATOR

One positive point you neglected to mention about the "ground level" option: It doesn't preclude the other types in the long run. My personal recommendation: Knock the sucker down, do whatever improvements can be done in 6 months (including hooking up to the Battery Street tunnel) and then wait 2 years. If the sky falls, and mutated sea lions start mating with tourists (I think those were in the Governor's prediction someplace) dig or build whatever seems doable at that point in time. Otherwise, if it is working, just improve the waterfront roadway gradually in several stages. I give the chances of that (or any half-way sane idea) being adopted at about 5%. And do you know why? Because this is the town that: During the (first) oil crisis was madly ripping out electric bus lines. (Until public ridicule heated up) Had I-90 ramps going nowhere longer than your primary reader base has been alive. Refused to set up the bus tunnel for future light rail until an engineer risked his career to point out to the press how much money pre-planning would save. Replaced (over MASSIVE public protest) an extremely popular attraction / public transport / art piece with an elevator from a mall. Can you spell "Bubbleator"? Wiped out (sorry, temporarily suspended) a popular waterfront streetcar because the idea of having a garage set up for it before they tore the old one down was beyond comprehension. Sigh... I suspect the viaduct will be submerged by rising sea levels (or covered by glaciers) long before it is replaced by anything better than itself. And, since if you are going to use this in you letters area you will probably edit it way down anyway (feel free), I will give you a conspiracy theory: Way back when, an evil cabal (some say it was Ford, Firestone Tire, and Chevron) conspired to eliminate mass transit as competition to cars in the U.S. As time went on these plans were phased out in most places by the end of WWII... But (cue spooky music) in a few places the bribe checks still go out from dusty ghost offices, still possessing the souls (sic) of politicians... Seattle is still possessed! OOOha! Either that or the folks running Seattle / Washington are idiots, take your pick.

Roger Leporidae

PS If this does not meet your standards for "letters to the editor" or a guest column due to lack of obscenities, feel free to add them as needed. I think "fucking bastards" would fit in a couple of spots.

MEET MY MIDDLE FINGER

Dear Erica C. Barnett, and your lying doctored photograph of the Seattle waterfront with no viaduct and no gridlocked bumper-to-bumper traffic: Fuck you too.

Sincerely,

West Seattle, White Center, Vashon Island, Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila

OPINION FROM BC

Another option for Alaska Way Viaduct: Vancouver BC which has a population same as Seattle, is extending its 49 KM rapid transit system another 19.5 KM at a cost of 2 billion. This addition will provide a direct connection from downtown Vancouver to the Vancouver International Airport and to Richmond with a population of 182,000. This dual tract system will carry the equivalent of 10 lanes of roadway and significantly reduce that transit time from home to office. I believe that the Seattle voters should be given another choice for the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct. That choice should be the removal of the present elevated structure. It would be replaced by a dual tracked light rail transit system and initially extended from the Seattle bus tunnel, along Aurora Street to North End communities and eventually all the way to Everett. There would still be sufficient space along this corridor to provide two lanes for vehicular traffic. This proposal will not only alleviate the congestion on Aurora Street but will pull traffic off I5 during the busy hour. This project will cost less than either of the other options proposed (tunnel verses elevated rebuild) and set Seattle on a new direction an environmentally preferred solution to our transportation system The WEB site for Vancouver’s transit system is www.translink.bc.ca.

Paul Russell

NO AND HELL NO

Erica: Helluva article! My son suggested that I read it. Your arguments may have changed his vote. I trust my son's suggestions. So, read it I did.

You make many very accurate points regarding "No" and about "Hell No". BUT, it seems to me that you are strongly trumpeting your bias just the way Nichols and Gregiore do theirs.

How about addressing some of your omissions? Such as: How do you expect the thousands of trucks that use the viaduct each day to deliver their goods while stuck in traffic on surface streets? (A lot of jobs there, too.) Your third picture (of your preferred choice) doesn't include railroad tracks. (This seems to be a train-size omission. Train tracks don't really "open up the waterfront.") You continually note that the $3 billion would be better spent on etc, etc, etc, . . . (It's my understanding that all or most of that money is state money and is only available for a replacement for Highway 99, a state highway. Am I missing something?) AND, you fail to address the reality that the demolition of the viaduct (without any kind of replacement of any kind) but will still cause nearly every problem (only for less time) that you attribute to both "No" and "Hell No" (like disrupting traffic, hurting and killing waterfront businesses, polluting the sound, etc).

So, your basic assumption seems to be that moving the viaduct traffic to surface streets will mean that Seattle will get efficient, workable transit, that therefore fewer vehicles will be on the surface streets, and therefore, there will be fewer miles driven and less pollution. Let's be real. Nobody knows if Seattle and/or Metro can or will create a mass transit system that commuters can and will use. (Personally, I hope so; but I wouldn't bet my whole ranch on it. You seem to be willing to bet the whole ranch on it, even if it's not your ranch.) What if 110,000 vehicles per day just move to surface streets and other routes, creating gridlock? Idling vehicles stuck in traffic or gridlock sure use more fuel and create more pollution than vehicles driving a arterial speeds.

Well, just a little feedback. My name is Bill. My sweetie and I run a recycling company. I do most of my errands and shopping on my bicycle. I hope your future articles will address these and other important considerations for solving the viaduct mess.

Bill

GREAT STORY

Hello Erica: I give you a lot of credit. I see where you are coming from with voting "No and Hell No", however, what would happen to the people who live in West Seattle? I know you suggested we spend the money on enhancing our public transportation but it would take our city forever to move forward on an idea like that and it will probably never happen. Your ideas are great, tear down the viaduct and resurrect the waterfront. It would cost less money and make the streets nicer. It would add new life to the waterfront. However, could you imagine if this city had to rely on I-5 as the only highway to go in and out of downtown? It would be an absolute mess! The nice streets that would replace the viaduct would be great, but would not get the job done for commuters. People who live in West Seattle would get screwed! I know ideas about a water taxi have been brought up but will it even make an impact? People who take this water taxi would be dropped off at the waterfront and then have to figure out how they would get to work from there. I don't know about you, but when I get done with a long day of work, I like to be able to get in my car and drive home. Not take a bus to the water taxi and then take the water taxi to West Seattle. People who have to head north of the city would have to rely on I-5 only! Like I said earlier, an absolute mess! All it takes is one accident to create severe traffic. Our city is growing at a fast pace and we need a solution. Our city is expected to grow as much as 40% in the next 20 years. Imagine what it would be like if we didn't have a viaduct/tunnel and our city took a long time to come up with a solution for public transportation. Some people might be able to work from home but not me! We all love our city but the "environment friendly" approach is not going to work in this situation. Unless our city can take action on a light rail that is run from the largest neighborhood in the city, West Seattle, I cannot support the tearing down the viaduct solution. I feel that Seattle should have a rail similar to the BART in San Fran. I would love to leave my car at home and hop on a train for an easy commute to work or even to a friend’s house. All neighborhoods in Seattle should be connected by a rail option but it probably won't happen. Erica, you have a lot of balls writing this story and I commend you. I really do.

George

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

In your article "No and Hell No" your main point is that we should not build either a viaduct or a tunnel, yet when you talk about the money to be spent on the project you state, "Imagine how much transit could be built in and around Seattle for $3 billion - how may buses we could buy or miles of light rail we could build for the money we're going to throw away...” Actually, no, I can't "imagine" what $3 billion will buy. It is such a large number that my mind has no reference points to establish an estimate. Also, as your reader I should not have to "imagine" what should have been a very convincing argument, in fact, the central argument of the entire 2 full page, front page article. In ten minutes on the internet I found that hybrid buses cost Seattle $645,000, and diesel buses cost $445,000 each. So we could purchase 4,651 hybrid or 6,742 diesel buses for $3 billion. (This could have been compared to the size of the current fleet for reference.) I also found that the proposed light rail expansion to Redmond will cost about $3.9 billion. So we could fund 3/4 of that extension with $3 billion. I applaud The Stranger for making these arguments that the daily papers aren't discussing, however, missing this opportunity to fully bring home your point greatly diminished the impact of the article. Barry Johnson

ONE CORRECTION

Erica: Thanks for making the points again. I think it's something like this: "What is it about NO & NO that you do not get, Governor?"

While yours is a terrific article there is one point in your article that deserves correction. Many, MANY, of the people who fought the monorail on its complete failure as appropriate in scale to Seattle's pedestrian urban streets are in fact working very hard the NO & Hell NO efforts.

The reason that some of us are not publicly active is simple: We would simply be written off as "anti-transportation solutions" thus the real arguments lost. We learned this in previous discussions.

Jack Mackie

A LITTLE LONG

Ms. Barnett: Thank you for your article “No and Hell No”. It was a little long, but it’s the clearest thing I’ve read re: this viaduct fiasco.

I think I have a unique view regarding the viaduct controversy, since I am part of the ‘hordes’ infiltrating Seattle from California. I recently moved here from San Francisco, and have personal experience with what a shoreline can look like with a freeway, and then without a freeway. The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 changed everything. From SFGate, the website for the SF Chronicle:

“Loma Prieta shattered the status quo. The damage caused by the earthquake made it impossible for the city to leave things the way they were. Something had to happen. And it did.

Now, instead of a shoreline cloaked in concrete, San Francisco savors the glory of a wide-open waterfront freed by the 1991 demolition of the quake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway.”

So instead of a horrible, elevated freeway, we have the renovated Ferry Building, host to one of the country’s best farmer’s markets (along with Pike’s) and a huge tourist draw. We have restaurants, we have tree-lined streets. We have trolleys and light rail and bicycle lanes.

In short, I agree with your stance. I wholeheartedly concur that what Seattlites need is a vision of Seattle in the future, a look ahead, and I don’t think anyone that can picture that imagines a shoreline choked by more concrete.

Alex

VIADUCT VOTES

Erica: I am very pleased with your coverage of the Alaskan Way Viaduct controversy, and I'm definitely going to follow your recommendation for a No/No vote.

However, I'm very curious that nobody seems to be advocating that the Viaduct be closed immediately. If it is such a danger, and it will need to be closed regardless of which option is chosen, why hasn't the City Of Seattle closed it immediately.

I think that the City, the State, and a number of government agencies are exposed to a significant amount of liability in the event of an earthquake. Not to mention how our national reputation will be affected in the aftermath of such an event.

I would love to hear what you think. Also, can you suggest ways to bring attention to this option?

Keep up the great work!

Hector Rovira

IN TOTAL AGREEMENT

Erica: I just happened to read your article about the viaduct. Great! Glad to see it in print. I voted NO two times on my mail in ballot for both measures. I couldn't agree with you more completely. No rebuild. Tear the sucker down and put the money into streetcars, light rail, more buses, bike lanes, anything to discourage people from driving their cars. Keep up the good work!

Jim Bradem

SHAME ON YOU

Dear The Stranger: This letter is in response to Erica C. Barnett's "No and Hell No" article about the SR 99 Viaduct. In all respect, what the hell are you talking about?! In your quest for a more beautiful and "less congested" Elliot Bay Waterfront, all your proposed demolition of the viaduct will accomplish is create a chronic headache for the city. What you want to do is put a cork in a high flowing hose without thinking about what will happen to all that backup. Well I will tell you! It will find a way to leak out of tiny little cracks all over the place and/or it will completely blow the hose a new hole! That sounds fabulous, Erica. So instead of a "less congested" Seattle, like you so easily say can happen, we will find our poor city streets even MORE crammed during peak rush hour times, causing MORE frustration to drivers, pedestrians, shop owners, residents, etc. How else are drivers, a lot of whom already carpool and drive more environmentally friendly vehicles, supposed to get past Seattle, huh? Merge onto the bottlenecked I-5!? That's a joke?! Go through downtown?! That's just plain funny! Why do I get the distinct feeling that YOU DON'T HAVE TO travel the dreaded North/ South commute past Seattle everyday? Is it maybe because you are an inner city person who can either easily find a bus to take you to work or, better yet, live within pedaling distance? Isn't that nice? But what about the rest of us who live and work on opposite sides of the city? Um, what was that? F*** us right?! Oh wait, you did mention a proposal that would "... make several streets transit-only, and expand bus service to neighborhoods that currently rely on the viaduct." Wow! Let's make all these poor schmucks sit in overcrowded Metro buses that will hopefully get them home in a short three hours (when it used to take 45 minutes). That's sounds great! Tell you what, Erica, I would agree to your plan to tear down the viaduct if you swore to ride along with us, day-in and day-out, in the hot, stinky, sweaty, beyond frustrating ride for a year. Five days a week... Fifty two weeks a year... I didn't think so. So before you start wanting to chop something down, you have to think about what that structure is supporting. Not merely trucks and sedans, but mothers and fathers who work exhausting twelve hour days and just want to get home to make supper for their children and MAYBE have an hour to relax before doing it all over again. You want to strip us of one good thing that we have which is a fairly decent commute using our beloved Viaduct! Erica, you should feel ashamed. There ARE solutions to reducing our city's contribution to global warming, and there ARE ways to help Seattle's "rapidly increasing congestion", but I'm sure as shit that tearing down the Viaduct ain't one of 'em. WE LOVE VIADUCT!!!

Keith W. Furtado

GREEN AND MOBILE

Erica Barnett's article entitled "No and Hell no!" was the most irresponsible piece of editorial traipsing around in the guise of journalism you have ever run. It is exceeded only by your endorsement of Hizzoner who is allowing his pack of greedhead jackals to run amuck on Capitol Hill and wherever affordable housing still exists. Phil Talmadge made an excellent case for a new elevated structure, during the debate at Town Hall, last Thursday. The commercial trucks that use the Alaska Way Viaduct aren't going to be able to do what they must, using the Ron Sims taxi (AKA the bus). And given how expensive it is to live in this city, more and more of us have to drive to several different jobs, within the week, to make ends meet. Listen to this one time: the bus won't cut it for most people's needs. Neither will the so-called surface option. If nothing else, the State should approve Victor Gray's retrofit option, and just live with the Viaduct for 20 more years. Then, the money can be spent to ad new lanes to the 520 bridge and shore up a structure that is over 40 years old. The jobs are on the Eastside, not downtown, in any event.

Terry Parkhurst

DOUBLE HELL NO TO THE "SURFACE STREET OPTION"

Anyone who advocates a surface street option to replace the Alaska Way viaduct has never commuted on Aurora/Hwy 99 during rush hour. I recommend the southbound morning experience between the zoo and the Battery St. tunnel, or northbound at 5 pm, between the 1st Ave S bridge and Fremont---if you want to get a taste. One must also blind oneself to the thousands of new condominiums mushrooming just north of downtown and in every Seattle neighborhood, and our predicted population increase of 60% over the next 33 years. Picture the inhabitants of these condos filling the surface streets of downtown. Most large cities have more than one freeway. Hwy 99 and the viaduct have served as a second freeway, and without them, city traffic would be total gridlock. A tunnel, Nickel's present to wealthy condo owners, would be expensive and potentially dangerous; and its campaign has been heavily financed by the company that fleeced Boston. Most of Erika Barnett's arguments are specious. A rebuilt viaduct would not have to be taller. It could, in fact, be built lower than the current one. Sitting in a bus or car, one could easily continue to enjoy the views over a 3-foot wall. Her article's photo essay shows surface streets with fewer cars than downtown Seattle sees at 3 a.m. Could we have some truth in journalism, please?

Anita Ross

WHERE’S LIGHT RAIL?

Erica, I've really been enjoying your articles about this issue for the last year or so. I especially enjoyed the pictures on the page following the article. The only thing missing from the bottom picture, though, was a Sound Transit light rail station. I'm not sure why they haven't decided to route their lines through there, since it will be all torn up for a couple years anyways...Thanks for your dedication to this important issue!

Fran L.

LET’S DO IT FOR OUR KIDS

I would like to pass along my compliments to the author of this fantastic article. This is one of the best, most well thought out articles that read about the viaduct to date. While I have long been a “Surface Street” proponent, I feel that after reading this article it would be hard for anyone to whole heartedly argue for rebuilding the viaduct. While I have never had the pleasure of walking along Seattle’s waterfront in a quiet, tranquil setting, I am hoping that some day my children will have the opportunity to do this. This article will help this dream become a reality.

Adam Hitch

IT’S DECIDED

Great viaduct article... I wasn't sure how to vote but after reading your article, you've convinced me. No to both. Thank you.

Scott from Ballard

 

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