“Viaduct Closed” lights surprise: It was a failure, after all

As reported here about this time yesterday, at least a few eastbound drivers heading out of West Seattle were startled to see those semi-new “Alaskan Way Viaduct Closed” viaductsign.jpglights flashing yesterday morning –considering The Viaduct was wide open at the time. We called the city Transportation Department and were told it was a test. Why no warning, then, some commenters sensibly asked. We had a followup question out and didn’t hear back till SDOT communications chief Rick Sheridan just called with new information: It was a system failure, after all. He says SDOT was confused when we first asked yesterday morning because some testing WAS actually happening elsewhere along the chain of warning lights — a crew was out in the north end along Aurora, where similar lights are set up for southbound drivers, testing individual lights; Sheridan says that was at the same time a “field communications device component” failed here in West Seattle, turning on the whole system. The faulty component has since been replaced. We asked why there was no advance public alert about the test that WAS going on; Sheridan says there wouldn’t be one for a “one light at a time, quickly off and on, with a crew standing there” test like the one on Aurora, but he promises there will be one for a systemwide test he says is planned in about three weeks. (Which would be right before the actual scheduled inspection closure of The Viaduct March 22-23.)

4 Replies to ""Viaduct Closed" lights surprise: It was a failure, after all"

  • WestwoodWriter February 27, 2008 (2:22 pm)

    This expensive “system” is only as valuable as it is reliable, and like everything in Seattle lately (New Bus Tunnel, New S.L.U.T., New I-5 paving, etc.), nothing is delivered as advertised. No one in West Seattle will ever know if the lights are being tested or broken or working or not working. They’re just another sign to ignore now. This REALLY does not bode well for the eventual Viaduct replacement. If they can’t get a handful of temporary signs managed properly, how are they going to manage thousands of commuters every morning with no Viaduct?

  • Al February 27, 2008 (2:54 pm)

    They aren’t.

  • Elizabeth February 27, 2008 (4:36 pm)

    It’s not just Seattle. This type of thing seems to happen everywhere nowadays. When you live in a country where “taxes” are a dirty word (so government is chronically underfunded), where the quality of materials and the skills of workers goes down every year, and where there is almost no work ethic or sense of personal or institutional responsibility anymore, these types of things will only get worse. Sad, but true.

  • Wendy February 27, 2008 (11:31 pm)

    Yeah it bugged me when I saw it blinking and then found the ramp open. Here I had been plotting my route via I-5 and found I didn’t have to. Thanks for letting us text you and and for updates while in the field. That was RAD.

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