Walking and the pedestrian environment
July 12, 2004
What started this? (Seattle)

My neighborhood is surrounded by elevated freeways.

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

Viaducts surround me. They're ugly, loud - disgraceful really. Don't get me wrong, there are a whole ton of things that make my neighborhood, Seattle's International District, attractive. It's just that the freeways aren't on that list. Probably you could put 'freeway access,' but it comes at a high cost.

I try to talk to people about it, but most just don't seem to get it. There's so much wasted space under and around the freeways. SR99, SR519, I-90, I-5. The best use for them in my opinion is parks, though most would get low usage. If parks are unfeasible they should be homeless camps, at least in low-density areas south of Dearborn. That's actually more attractive than construction staging, temporary parking for abandoned cars, and heavy vehicle storage.

What's twisted is that some of the nicest landscaping in my area are at freeway on and offramps, inaccessible to law-abiding pedestrians. And I can't carry on a conversation in Kobe Terrace Park because of the constant white noise of traffic, while cushy suburban residents get their property values raised by new sound walls in north Seattle and on the eastside.

I've been meaning to catalog my freeway thoughts for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it. Then I read this article in the King County Journal last week. I'm really upset now. It makes me sick that they're talking about trying to make people's commutes into "a pleasant drive" when that's the one hour a day or whatever that they have to acknowledge freeways exist. Meanwhile, creative WSDOT planners are inventing opportunities to erect new viaducts up and down the south end of downtown Seattle.

Well okay, while you all are enjoying your "pleasant drive" 50 feet up in the air, coming in for a landing in downtown and searching for free parking, I'm down here walking my dog through the heavy particles coming out of your exhaust pipe and stepping on broken glass. I'm going to show you what it's like for men to walk around the legs of giants. Get ready for a ride.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at July 12, 2004 6:51 PM
Lost Seattle
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