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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 15, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement

In more ways than one

Editor, The Times:

The service of the viaduct in the 1950s was to let vehicle traffic bypass the downtown area [“Market officials concerned about viaduct option,” News, Dec. 13]. This kept people who did not want to be in downtown traffic out of it and relieved downtown pedestrians and drivers of having to contend with those extra cars. It relieved congestion, decreased exhaust along with wear and tear on vehicles and nerves.

So now the anti-auto people want to cancel the wisdom of the planners of the 1940s and 1950s by putting all of those vehicles back on surface streets, with obstructions along the way, such as 21 stoplights southbound, in this new debacle.

The basic paradigm of transportation is this: Move people or goods from here to there. The best case is to have complete freedom of route and time. The best case is that there are no obstructions.

Many years ago, people invented bridges over rivers and ravines. Over time came wheels, boats and ships, aircraft, motors and engines, and long bridges we call viaducts, causeways and such, and turnpikes and other limited-access highways for wheeled vehicles — all to get closer to the best-case paradigm.

But a group of people today forget transportation and want to move us back in time. They say, “Use transit or bicycles. Walk, it’s good for you,” or “If you are 80, 70, 60, 50, if you have three children to take to Sears for back-to-school clothes, if you have a truck full of produce, plumbing repair gear, if you have an old TV to recycle in the industrial area, take a bus, a bike or walk.”

A major feature of transportation in and around well-planned cities for several thousands of years has been bypass routes. This is what subways are: here to there without obstruction.

I have used foot, bike, train, transit, wagon and motor vehicle as primary means of transporting myself, others and stuff, in several places, including abroad. Each mode has its advantages. We should do what we can to make each safe, useful and efficient. But we darn sure must not discourage or disparage any one.

If we narrow-mindedly delete the viaduct, which bypasses downtown clearly, we will see more pollution, higher aggregate costs of vehicle maintenance, and more traffic injuries.

We must keep this means to get from here to there without obstruction.

— Richard Carter, Seattle

Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

Cars exit the Alaskan Way Viaduct heading south. Quest Field looms in the background.

Consider this

I see a lot of discussion of initial capital-construction costs associated with the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. But I don’t see any discussion or data related to the long-term costs associated with this project.

I am thinking of costs to individual taxpayers/consumers over the life of the replacement. This includes such things as average transit time, average quantity of gasoline and amount of air pollution generated per trip for each of the replacement options.

Is there any difference in the expected accident and injury rate on the various types of roadways?

Also, what is the anticipated maintenance and repair cost over the life of the project for each of the options?

These types of costs must be considered if we are to make an intelligent choice, and I am concerned that important factors may not be considered.

— Larry Holdren, Bellevue

Comments | More in Transportation, Viaduct

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