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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 16, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct plans

Who cares?

Charles Anderson’s vision of Seattle’s waterfront demonstrates a decided lack of understanding about how critical Highway 99 is to the city [“Viaduct replacement gives city a chance to make waterfront unforgettable,” Charles Anderson guest columnist, Dec. 14].

The vast majority of Seattleites who have to use the Alaskan Way Viaduct on a daily basis couldn’t care less what happens on the waterfront or how it affects local residents or tourists — all they want is the quickest way to get through the city center without being impeded by traffic.

The viaduct serves them extremely well in that regard. Any plan that fails to be as effective in moving traffic will only further victimize those who want to avoid downtown, which is probably most of us.

— Herb Aldinger, Seattle

Please consider

I really appreciated the column by Charles Anderson in Sunday’s paper. I grew up in the Midwest and had many relatives who lived in or near Chicago. I spent many childhood vacations with them, and remember how much all of us loved driving down the Lake Shore Drive admiring the view, and occasionally spending time on the beach.

Ever since I have lived in or near Seattle, I have wondered why there isn’t a space for the ordinary citizens to enjoy the beauty of the Sound in the downtown area. Recently, I have been cheering for whatever plan for replacing the viaduct will make the waterfront unforgettable to the citizens and the tourists.

Until I read yesterday’s story, I hadn’t realized that the plan for surface streets would be clogged with traffic and stoplights. Anderson presents another option that has many advantages, and that I hope the city will consider.

— Mary Bartholet, Shoreline

Give us a voice

Recent meetings about the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement and the Highway 520 bridge offered dramatically different approaches to transportation planning.

The state’s “mediation” process for Highway 520 has been confined to six-lane alternatives. All of these would cause more concrete, congestion and disruption of Seattle neighborhoods. There is increasing dismay among parks and Arboretum advocates, environmentalists and many community members over the lack of an environmental options in the Highway 520 mediation process.

This is an area that is sensitive to Seattle voters, who, two years ago, rejected the costly and disruptive choices of a tunnel or rebuilt viaduct. This process was established to represent a broad range of economic and environmental interests.

We need to consider a broad array of options for viaduct replacement, including choices that would reduce environmental impact, as well as shift the balance of travel toward higher transit use. Seattle, King County and the Washington State Department of Transportation representatives should rotate leadership of the meetings. There should be technical research and response to stakeholders’ questions reflective of active involvement, from the beginning, by qualified transit planners.

Now is an opportunity for Seattle to move to better planning for Highway 520. Similar to the viaduct process, local officials should insist on inclusion of the four-lane transit-optimized alternative among the options evaluated. Such a process would be public, open to input from affected neighborhoods and those favoring a better chance for transit. It should be evaluated with updated traffic-projection models, reflecting potential availability of an integrated, advanced, regional transit network.

— Bob Corwin, Seattle

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