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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM

City streets: Why are they in such bad shape?

What gets a city employee fired?

The Seattle Times article about incompetence in city government [“The street crews that couldn’t pour straight,” page one, July 17] reminds me of why we need daily newspapers to serve as professional watchdogs. It also brought to mind The Seattle Times article from some years ago about the city employee who was caught by Seattle Police stealing city computers, and yet was allowed to remain on the payroll.

Sure makes one wonder: What does it take for a city employee to actually get fired?

— Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

Seattle streets look, function terribly

Last month, a visiting friend commented that Seattle streets were as bad as the streets of bankrupt New York during the ’70s. Despite having many years of unprecedented prosperity, Seattle’s cracked and potholed streets are the norm and the solution from the mayor is to just patch the hole until next time.

Taxpayer’s millions wasted on repeatedly built crosswalks or crooked concrete curbs isn’t the only concern with the Seattle Department of Transportation.

As in other parts of town, the curbs on Capitol Hill’s Pine Street are being pushed in so that all traffic behind every bus will have to stop every time. Intersections around town are being rebuilt with curb bulbs in order to eliminate the right turn lane, which only causes more congestion and idling.

Antiquated traffic signals on major streets stop rush-hour traffic flow every few blocks, causing guaranteed gridlock. The rest of the world somehow survives with stop signs, but we pay to install concrete traffic islands and “traffic calming” concrete slaloms while hundreds of city intersections go with no signage at all. And then there are the bike lanes and symbols, which seem to create more confusion than anything else.

SDOT’s boss, Mayor Greg Nickels, seemingly has no clear vision for the city’s transportation system and is more intent with redecorating Mercer Street. This billionaire’s new driveway will certainly look nice, but it will also increase congestion and cost a bundle. Maybe the mayor does have a vision for Seattle’s transportation after all?

Safety will always be the excuse for these SDOT beauty projects that steal precious tax dollars while our streets are crumbling into gravel. Safety is a very relative term and holds little weight when a town is planning for several hundred thousand more residents.

Eliminating arterial traffic lanes and public parking spaces is no way to encourage density or an efficient business climate. Bad decisions made now will effect our local economy for decades to come.

Trucks and cars will eventually have to be clean and they will never go away. A single light-rail line means most people will still need to get around by car or bus. It makes no sense to increase congestion while encouraging higher density at the same time. It is well past time that Seattle’s taxpayer dollars are spent for their own benefit and no one else’s.

— David G. Wright, Seattle

Comments | More in Politics, Seattle, Traffic congestion, Transportation

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