Nice Seattle Neighborhoods

I typically ride Metro’s route 65 along 35th Avenue Northeast through both Wedgwood and a very small part of the View Ridge neighborhoods on my way home after work.  I’ve decided that between Northeast 45th (which runs past the University of Washington) and Northeast 110th is a very nice area with fairly nice houses (chances that any of those are rentals seems rather low).  Smaller houses, but that’s typical for Seattle.  The drawback being that that corridor is only served by routes 64 and 65, though some cross streets are served by other routes (not many of them, from what I can tell).

Seattle: Transit Woes with Intellectual Energy Wasted

Living in Seattle at the moment is both weird and a bit scary. Scary because the Washington State Department of Transportation is currently ramping up to a major shutdown of a portion of Interstate 5 just south of downtown Seattle for major repair work between the 10th and 29th of this month. This is being billed as one of their biggest projects ever. Weird because, the way I look at it, it’s sort of a traffic armageddon, but it’s also a major opportunity for the City of Seattle that’s being grossly neglected.

Businesses are responding by trying to make it far easier for employees to get to work by offering telecommute or shared commute options, even promoting use of transit via our local transit agencies (Metro, Sound, and Pierce Transit, specifically). Metro, rather glaringly, doesn’t have any extra capacity to add in case it gets slammed, while other agencies seem to have some surplus. But this is truly strange in that, despite exhortations from the Department of Transportation to avoid commuting through that particular stretch of I-5, nobody seems to see this as a prime opportunity to rethink the way that Seattle itself is organized.

We have a number of major traffic arterials that are slowly aging and will be in desperate need of replacement within the next 20 years. One of the biggest is the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which is way over capacity; another is the Highway 520 floating bridge, and Interstate 5 ranks high in that list. Political fisticuffs have been flying around the subject of replacing both the Viaduct and the floating bridge, with people arguing quite vocally about construction methods and timeline. These are vital infrastructure – or so we think. I can’t argue that the floating bridge doesn’t provide a major west/east corridor – of course it does. But what if we sat down and re-visioned the idea of Seattle and the communities surrounding it? What if we decided that, instead of expending our mental energy and our physical resources on reconstructing these resources, we increase population density in Seattle’s downtown core, massively improve transit presence throughout Seattle, and offer disincentives to drive downtown (imitating London and cities in Germany)?

The problem is, we sit around debating. Some of the most drastic rethinking of what it means to be in a city comes from politicians that take immediate action without allowing time for debate. Yes, Interstate 5 is being repaired, and it will undoubtedly be a mess. So why are we ignoring the chance to rethink what it means to live here rather than simply saying “things will get worse, deal with it”? Why do we push this off until the Viaduct closes and we are faced with much the same problem?