Journal: News & Comment

Monday, September 11, 2006
# 11:15:00 AM:

Seattle's stark choice

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Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel replacement simulationI love to visit Seattle, and after a bit of a hiatus after 9/11, have returned there regularly over the past few years. It is our similar-but-not-the-same neighbour city to the south. But I've always been mystified by its decision, a few decades ago, to erect the dark cement ugliness of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on the Elliott Bay waterfront downtown—it's as if the city's urban planners of the 1960s wanted to slap Mother Nature in the face and prove that freeway culture could crush even the most beautiful cityscape.

The Viaduct is aging and needs to be replaced. Seattleites are facing two choices: tunnel or new viaduct. I know what I'd choose, despite the massive additional cost. And even though we have traffic problems here in Vancouver, they remain less severe than Seattle's, and remind me how glad I am that we stopped the big downtown freeways in their tracks in the early '70s. That choice helped Vancouver stay more livable than Seattle overall.


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