Pullout Feb 18, 2015 at 4:00 am

I Swear to God, It's So Ugly, It Just Might Kill You

It feels as though simply staring at the viaduct too hard could cause it to collapse. Kelly O


It's abutment, not buttment. (Also I giggled at "buttment" because I'm apparently 12)
So left out of this article is the note that a lot of the construction (All of it from Yesler to the Aquarium) really is in most (but not all) ways a separate project from the Viaduct. All of that is Seawall replacement that really really had to happen anyway...
Let's not give a moments thought to how a completed bore tunnel set in a thick and maleable mud bed below sea level as far north as Blanchard would react to massive earthquake waves from the west. The AWV will likely survive construction, but the vulnerable historic and modern buildings above in a big earthquake would not. Think of all the money to be made cleaning up the mess, rebuilding, burying the dead, devising PR statements explaining why the disaster couldn't be avoided.
How is it that a bridge that could kill 20 people is considered by the City of Seattle to be a greater hazard than one that could kill hundreds or thousands?

Because an engineering evaluation was performed. It was determined that it needed to be replaced, but that the risk wasn't high enough to close it during the interim. This isn't news to anyone.

If the Stranger would simply submit one article with actual data on risks and benefits instead of 100 posts saying "I feel scared" or "it looks scary" then I would jump for joy. The Stranger is so out of its league this week. This is an engineering problem. No more posts of people doing yoga near GPS level detectors or jumping on buses. Those are fucking gimmicks. This is what Buzzfeed or Gawker would do if they had to cover this story. The Stranger used to be above this kind of bullshit journalism.

Go fucking interview some scientists and engineers and provide us with data. And for fuck's sake, don't include another post that says "it is scary looking"! Provide an engineering argument why it needs to be shut down now. Do a cost-benefit analysis. This isn't rocket science.
The viaduct is beautiful. All that gorgeous, weathered concrete and drips and drabs and blobs. The weird echoes. It's an urban wonderland.

The ugliest walk in Seattle is the fancy new pedestrian walkway behind Safeco Field to the light rail, which is eleventy times bigger and emptier than it has any right to be. A design principle that will be liberally applied to the new waterfront (and the new tunnel approaches).

No, wait, it's Westlake Avenue through all the new construction in SLU. Such fakery. You end up at a nice park but on the way your soul falls out of your pants leg.
Over 15 years ago I visited the Seattle waterfront as a tourist and wondered, "Why is that ugly fucking road running overhead?"
It is not the purpose of a city to be beautiful. It should possess beauty, among other things. A city should be urban, and the viaduct is urban. I like it. But it also should not crash on anyone head, so we should probably tear it down anyway.
I suppose it's subjective, but despite thinking the viaduct has worn out its welcome, it's still provides a beautifully depressing urban stroll. You want ugly, walk Greenwood north of 90th, or Lake City Way, or Aurora north of Greenlake (holy shit Beth's is still there?)... Jesus I haven't even gotten south of 80th yet.

The Viaduct is brutal, but it's so steeped in nostalgia to me it can't be anything but wonderful.
Actually disagree, Paul. This walk is awesome and I take it regularly. Besides being a little unsafe as far as cars, there's always tons to see and hear, and ITS ALWAYS DRY under the viaduct. You can walk from Pioneer Sq. to the elevators behind Pike Place, or in nice weather ditch out from under it and up Post Alley. From the ferry you can see The Aquarium, Ivar's Emerald City Guitars, Purlieu Hall, Post Alley Pizza, that antique store, HWY 99 Blues Club, Top Pot Donuts, The Owl N Thistle, Mae Phim Thai, etc etc, without ever getting rained on. I mean...c'mon. The ugliest walk in Seattle is any one next to a construction crane on Cap Hill or Ballard, or the CD.
@7 Then you should move to Detroit!
@10 - Detroit's issues lie with neglect and decay (i.e., money), not with purpose or design (though you might have a few questions about the people mover). It was once a very ostentatious city.
I lived at the OK HOTEL for a year, on the third floor with the first level of the viaduct literally 20 feet outside of my window. The OK HOTEL is a tax credit building providing homes to those that are very low income. It's interesting to view this thick classist system that is presented so clearly surrounding Pioneer Square. With low income buildings that are literally INFESTED with bed bugs (I'm talking building-wide infestation,) shelters like the Bread of Life on the corner of 1st and Main (basically neighbors of the aforementioned apartment buildings) and the Union Gospel Mission where the lines are overrun with people trying to get off the street for a night. While at the same time, I have seen some of the astonishingly expensive luxury loft apartments in the square and they are homes you'd find highlighted on TLC or Cribs or whatever. I mean SPECTAULAR.
The OK HOTEL is a building that is "maintained" by Pinnacle Management which is also managing what I call the "glass box condos" that were just built over by Century Link. The building is home to people who can't afford anything else in this city as well as yuppy art folks who have art studio spaces in the building, most of them wouldn't dare live at the OK. The management of the building made me live with Bed Bugs in my apartment from February of 2013 to August of 2014. It was like pulling teeth to get them to treat me like a goddamn human being.
And then we have all of the folks who have no where to go, getting into the Bread of Life is not free, or so I have been told by several folks that I know on a first name basis who are frequently trying to scrounge extra money in hopes of a temporary room and roof.
What we need to be focusing on here as a city is MAINTENANCE of these basic ass necessities and less judgement based on WEALTH WORTHINESS. The homeless population is extreme in Pioneer Square, and with this proven problematic development that is being pushed forth comes the question of WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE LIVING ON THE STREETS GOING TO GO WHEN IT'S ALL SAID AND DONE. We all know these pretty white folks who want to roust in the up and coming P-Square don't want to worry about the realness of humanity and all of the issues that are presented in our flawed system of wealth and determination of where funding should and shouldn't go.
I appreciate this article, and wanted to pitch my words of experience as a resident in the heart of this fall out. What happens to the people living under and around the viaduct if and (more obviously) WHEN it finally gives in? These people are clearly expendable, right?
@8 has it right. I'm living in shared housing in north Greenwood Ave N right now because I'm poor (far N of 85th approaching Shoreline). It's ugly, but I think north Lake City and Aurora are a lot worse than Greenwood Ave N.

The Viaduct is far from being the ugliest part of Seattle. There are a lot of ugly parts of Seattle. The people who talk about how beautiful Seattle are probably live primarily in the bubble around Lake Union. Sure is pretty there, and expensive as hell. I would not say it's an incredibly beautiful city. I'd say it's a beautiful city if you aren't poor. I do agree that the Viaduct is the worst thing about downtown, though. Walking along the construction that runs along side of it is extremely unpleasant. I can't wait for it to be gone.
Pretty lame implying the seawall work clutter is somehow part of the viaduct's ugliness. When the seawall is done no one is going to be walking north-south under it unless it's raining.

The viaduct is an excellent traffic mover with a stellar view and rain shelter. It does not block any public views except a little bit of West Seattle from Harbor Steps.

A refurbished viaduct with a reduced speed limit, sound mitigating materials, landscaping, architectural features like longitudinal arches, and the three lane AK Way remaining under it is a better solution for the general public than what's coming when it's gone:

A busy AK Way as wide as seven lanes, three lanes wider than the viaduct's widest footprint. Analysts figure about 40% of the viaduct's traffic will resort to surface streets downtown when it's gone, mostly on the waterfront, impeding pedestrian traffic and spewing noise and fumes at pedestrian level, constantly going from idle to acceleration.
I miss parking under the viaduct :-(

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