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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 5, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Don’t do as the San Franciscans do

Jim Vesely’s paean to San Francisco’s Embarcadero is long on waterfront ambience and short on transportation considerations [“Embarcadero, thy daughter is the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” editorial columnist, Jan. 4].

The Embarcadero was mostly an exit to San Francisco, not a through-way. San Francisco is also served by a limited-access arterial along its west edge, and a freeway entering town near the city’s east edge. There’s also a monster freeway down the Bay’s east shore, serving a shipping industry and residents. Another freeway runs east of this for those bypassing the Bay Area. They’re all laced together with several spurs running east to west. There are five bridges across the Bay. Driverless Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains travel east and south through a network of mostly tunneled lines. Besides the iconic waterfront cable cars, there are newer trolleys.

Meanwhile Seattle has one freeway through it, with a short Interstate 405 spur. We will have negligible rail alternatives even when voter-approved additions are completed. We also have the waterfront viaduct connected to limited-access arterials, serving city residents and a huge industrial infrastructure. The inevitable gridlock resulting from viaduct closures amply demonstrates a surface-street alternative is unacceptable. Basing transportation decisions on the Embarcadero experience is a tragic mistake.

— Bill Butler, Seattle

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