I knew when our youngest son got the birthday party invitation in January that it was time to bite the bullet. The party was in Bellevue, which meant crossing the bridge, and that meant finally getting one of those bridge-toll passes (or start paying through the nose for Container Store runs and trips to Woodinville for wine).
So I bought a pass and sat down at my computer to load it up with cash. The process was humming along until I punched in the numbers on my pass and noticed that the last number dropped off in the provided field. I clicked back and re-entered the numbers, but the number repeatedly dropped off. After numerous tries, I gave up, called the info line and a nice man sheepishly informed me, “Yeah, I guess we haven’t notated it very clearly that that will happen.” Ya think? The transaction—something that should have taken 10 minutes—took an eye-twitching 40 minutes; it was frustrating and unwieldy, like a miniature version of Seattle’s greater transportation process. But, hey, I was Good to Go!
As we crossed the 520 bridge and played “I spy the cameras that will zap money from the windshield sticker,” I explained to Luca that the toll is a tax people pay for using roads so that we can build a bigger, safer bridge which will have capacity to bear the weight of light rail and perform a number of other new tricks. I will willingly fork over a few extra bucks if it means we will eventually get traffic moving around here again—and that had better happen or I will demand a refund.
In the coming months, our city will embark on the biggest transportation projects we’ve ever seen—the biggest-diameter tunnel in history, cleaning up the Mercer Mess, the light-rail buildout and the 520 bridge replacement, to name a few.
We’ve been geeking out about the Alaskan Way Viaduct, especially since the teardown began last fall and we had a front-row seat from our SoDo office. (I loved driving into work, seeing the colorful herd of bulldozers slowly grazing the concrete and wire into crumbles.)
Managing editor Kristen Russell, whose hilarious and informative “Viaduct for Dummies” posts on our blog are required reading for navigating what’s going on with this project, produced this month’s epic transportation cover story, which is chock-full of information you need to know about these projects and how they’ll impact your life. And of course, the story is just beginning to unfold, so look for more coverage in the coming months. In the meantime, if you really want to nerd out, you can do so to your heart’s content at Milepost 31 in Pioneer Square (211 First Ave. S) where you’ll find a miniature-museum-like visitor’s center for the Viaduct-replacement project and its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
As sad as I will be to see the glorious urbanity-to-the-east, nature-to-the-west duality of the Viaduct drive go, I’m glad to see our city’s transportation projects finally moving forward.
Until next month,