Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Seattle’s Freeway?

Dateline: 10:50 pm March 15, 2007 Filed under:

A citywide advisory vote on how to replace an aging and earthquake damaged elevated freeway in downtown Seattle took an interesting turn this week. Residents were allowed to vote on two separate solutions, one to dig a $3.4 billion tunnel and the other to rebuild the viaduct for $2.8 billion. Both votes failed. It seems that folks in Seattle want the freeway gone.

Perhaps some Seattleites have traveled to San Francisco. Imagine that. They have probably seen the Embarcadero freeway come down after the 1989 earthquake and get replaced by an urbane, at-grade street that allows access to the waterfront. They have probably crossed the crosswalk and visited the restored Ferry Building, a wonderful reclaimed landmark for the city. And they have probably taken the streetcar along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. I never saw the elevated freeway that is now gone, but I understand the improvement to San Francisco by removing it.

I have been to Seattle and the view out across the water from downtown is stunning. How can residents not want to reclaim their waterfront? The possibilities are endless.

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