Walking and the pedestrian environment
January 14, 2005
Speed decrease (Seattle)

Feet First asked for a speed reduction on the viaduct to improve safety and decrease road noise. I sent a letter to the editor to support them.

This is part of the special feature Freeway Box, showcasing my old life next to freeway viaducts.

Today, the Seattle PI prominently reported on Feet First's position that the Viaduct should have a reduced speed limit.

I sent the following letter to the PI editor to support them:


Federal safety requirements for freeway design are a joke. After we have their money, we always redesign the roadway to add capacity.

10 years after 99 and 520 are rebuilt there will be demands to add more lanes. But there is no more space for cars in Seattle, unless we're planning to level some buildings for parking and turn sidewalks into SUV lanes. Adding freeway capacity to let more cars get here is useless. They only benefit developers who knock down trees to build sprawling rural subdivisions. We certainly don't need the 'banked' capacity that shoulders and wide lanes truly represent.

Existing freeways that don?t meet safety standards need enforced, lowered speeds. People changing tires are killed by inattentive drivers, and roads are snarled by even minor accidents. Aggressive drivers know there's no space for cops to set speed traps, so they drive 70 on the viaduct and 80 on I-5.

If we're going to end up with unsafe roads anyways, why don't we just save money by designing them that way to begin with and drop speeds?


I included the following comment when I forwarded that mail to other folks:

I think it's important to realize that every freeway and highway in Seattle has more lanes on it now than it was designed for. I don't know why we shouldn't expect the same thing to happen with the freeways we're building. Certainly Jim Horn's editorial recently should make it clear that there are powerful forces in the state that have been fighting for a long time to increase capacity in and through Seattle regardless of what we want. I'm surprised that so many people have taken the "safety improvements" at face value. If we don't need them now, why will we need them in the future? I don't want to be tricked into paying for added capacity.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at January 14, 2005 12:23 PM
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