Saturday, October 17, 2009

Viable Viaduct

Mimi had a birthday party to go to yesterday; I’d finished all the grading I was going to do for the day; Jen set her projects aside and so the two of us went downtown in the afternoon for a late lunch that turned, instead, into early happy hour.

We landed for a time at Lowell’s in the Market, a place I always forget about when I’m looking for somewhere to have a beer mid-day, which is a shame, because it’s quiet, reasonably dark, and really has a great view, not only of the eye-burningly hot Asian girl bartender, but also, more to the point, of the Sound, and even more to the point of this piece, of the Alaskan Way Viaduct below.

That point being: as I stood gazing out the west-facing windows of the restaurant, enjoying the way the sun played off the water between downtown and Alki, and I could see the way drivers couldn’t help but slow slightly and turn their heads to the right to take in the view, it came to me in one of those (what my friend Richard Leider always calls) blinding glimpse of the obvious…

Save the Viaduct!

Don’t tear it down; don’t dig underneath it; don’t replace it with a boulevard.

Save the Viaduct!

We already have what we all want: a reasonably fast auto route along the western edge of the city, with unobstructed access to West Seattle.

And it has a view!

Moreover, it’s just inconvenient enough to have the desired traffic-calming effects and, while it doesn’t get everyone out of their cars, it envisions a time when traffic was no worse than in 1962; a worthier enough goal to aim for.

All it needs are a few improvements:

There’s got to be a bike lane, of course.

And ideally, more pedestrian access from beneath to the waterfront.

Some kind of planting would be nice.

And it shouldn’t fall down; we can certainly afford that.


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