Seattle's Worst Transportation Moments in 2011

2011 was the worst year in memory to be a Seattle driver. Here are some of the many ways we paid for
Kristen Russell  |   December 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

Tunnel vision
Seattle gets split asunder by a manufactured deep-bore “debate,” which has no actual influence on the already-approved project (but does provide for entertaining and heated “Seattle process” rhetoric).

Viaduct and cover
Traffic-traumatized Seattleites endure the nadir of no-go during a record nine-day shutdown of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Many consider moving to the actual state of Alaska.

Tollhouse morsel
Perched on the edge of our bucket seats, we spend 2011 awaiting the delayed (originally slated for April) but inevitable (at press time, slated for this month) 520 bridge tolling. I-90 bridge users hunker down in a NIMBY snit.

Good To Go?
Malfunctioning tolling equipment on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge sends fines to two hundred South End drivers. This headline wrote itself.

Good To Go! Part Deux
The rest of us are forced to endure the “Good To Go!” PR blitz, featuring former PBS kids’ show scientist Bill Nye in a series of baffling mash-ups. In one, Nye and celebrity chef Tom Douglas riff on the importance of having a “secret sauce.” “So you could say that for drivers, the Good To Go! pass is their secret sauce,” asserts Nye, making us all feel instantly better about the whole thing.

Mercer Mess
Remember when this daily traffic tangle passed for an epic traffic jam? How adorable! But not to be outdone by the struggles in SoDo, Mercer Street raises its game in 2011, repeatedly shutting down completely for construction and forcing SLU drivers to endure monumental backups in pursuit of pretzels at Brave Horse Tavern.

Park city
Four-dollar street parking catapults Seattle to new heights; now the seventh-most-expensive place in the nation to park a car (an average of $24/day, behind Manhattan, Boston and Chicago).

A bit gassy
Skyrocketing gas prices give Seattle drivers a pain in the tank, at times spiking to the $4 mark and often among the priciest in the nation. In a desperate attempt to save money, Seattleites scour the city for a cheap place to park—but give up when they realize it’s actually cheaper to stay in motion.

Coexist
In an optimistic effort to make Seattle more bike friendly, the city experiments with the Euro concepts of “sharrows” and “woonerfs,” forcing drivers to “share” the road with bicycles (and add silly words to their vocabularies).

My other car is a GET OUT OF THE WAY!
Idling in traffic for much of 2011, and with numerous major road construction projects in the works for 2012 (hello, 520 and 405!), Seattle drivers grapple with the carsick feeling that next year could be even worse.