Viaduct-to-Tunnel: Words of praise, poem of regret

Five days after the announcement that Governor Gregoire, County Executive Sims, and Mayor Nickels want to see the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section replaced with a $4 billion package of improvements centered on a deep-bored tunnel, the chatter about it continues, and we have two things to share tonight: First, 34th District State Sen. Joe McDermott sent a note after Week 1 of the new legislative session wrapped up, pointing out that he’s now writing updates in blog format on his official website. (It’s not entirely blog format, since you can’t leave comments, but maybe that’ll change.) His latest post, which you can read here, describes the tunnel announcement as “Viaduct Success.” (He’s also posted a podcast — 3 1/2 minutes of audio — but it’s not about The Viaduct; it’s about the state-budget shortfall.) We’ll keep an eye on the next move re: The Tunnel – the Legislature’s website doesn’t currently have anything specifically on the agenda. Now, the other tunnel note: West Seattle poet Carol Smith has penned a lament to drivers’ prospective loss of views – read on:

By Carol Smith

I think that I shall never see
A tunnel lovely as a tree
Or budding flower or bird on wing
For in that hole there is no spring

The sunset we all once could view
Will now be shared by just the few
In lofty towers that crowd our skies
On land that was the real prize

With fancy charts and new address
This option’s gone from worst to best
Despite the fact it once was found
As far too costly and unsound

And since so long we had to wait
To learn our new commuting fate
I fear we’ve lost the strength to fight
The war to keep that view in sight

Now where no man was meant to go
Like moles we’ll scurry down below
In dreary rows all side by side
When once with beauty we did ride

31 Replies to "Viaduct-to-Tunnel: Words of praise, poem of regret"

  • austin January 18, 2009 (6:57 pm)

    The Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Avenue) has excellent views from the other side of the bay which won’t distract you while you’re attempting to drive.

  • tunnelislame January 18, 2009 (7:06 pm)

    Amen, poem writer. Boo tunnel.

  • M January 18, 2009 (7:13 pm)

    Great Poem Carol!

    I love the view of the city as your driving north. My kids say “now we’re in the Big City”

    Hopefully we’ll get a few more years from the viaduct as a project like this will undoubtedly have many issues to be addressed before it is completed.

  • Alki Res. January 18, 2009 (7:19 pm)

    that is a beautiful poem!!!! I almost cried!!! I will also miss the view from the viaduct!!!

  • Mark January 18, 2009 (9:33 pm)

    As one who enjoys the stunning view from the Alaskan Way Viaduct, I appreciate the sentiment expressed in Carol Smith’s poem. But for those sentimental for the shaky old structure, please be reminded that the lovely view will still be there, sans concrete, after the embarrassing scar is removed.

  • k January 18, 2009 (9:50 pm)

    But Mark– are you going to buy a nice condo and let all of us in it to see a working waterfront from above? Access will be denied for the vast majority.
    The public space that cost only a car ride or bus fare will be gone. Nothing else will replace the view.
    The developers will profit, the rest of us not so much.

    Thank you Carol, my sentiments exactly.

  • Dave A. January 18, 2009 (9:58 pm)

    It’s funny, maybe it’s because I don’t own a car but I have the exact opposite take on the tunnel. To me the Viaduct ruins the view in Seattle. Maybe a tunnel isn’t the best solution but, in my opinion, it will be nice when that monstrosity that the car commuters love so much is out of the way.

  • Mark January 18, 2009 (10:46 pm)

    K, poor post-viaduct planning is by no means a foregone conclusion. It’s the height of cynicism to suggest that a waterfront viaduct is the most equitable way for Seattle – or for that matter, any world-class city – to share the view. You really need to get out of that car! :)

  • Meghan January 19, 2009 (9:16 am)

    “Cute” poem, but I just find it so hard to believe that anyone would advocate a big, ugly elevated highway cutting off our downtown from our precious waterfront, most especially to preserve views from a speeding car! How about you keep your eyes on the road when you’re driving, get out of your car, and enjoy the views from all the new open space we’ll have?? And remember, any NEW viaduct would be much wider and bigger than the current one! Let’s join the 21st century, West Seattle, and support the tunnel!

  • westseattleite January 19, 2009 (10:23 am)

    Boo tunnel. Not only will I miss the views, but I’ll miss the efficiency too. When all of the pro-tunnel people are stuck in the tunnel during an accident and can’t get out we’ll see how much they love it.

  • KatherineL January 19, 2009 (10:29 am)

    To all of you who castigate viaduct view lovers as not paying attention to their driving: the bus goes on the viaduct, too. I used to relax and watch the view on the way home every night. I’ll miss that. And I fiercely resent the fact that people with money will buy up “my” view and push me underground.

  • villagegreen January 19, 2009 (10:33 am)

    Yeah, I’ve never experienced being stuck on the viaduct during an accident.

    There are a million and one places in the city to get breathtaking views, an obscenely loud concrete pollution spewing waterfront killer should not be one of them.

  • Perspective of New View Points January 19, 2009 (10:46 am)

    I didn’t want to let go of “my” view either. But, I remembered and have embraced the fact that I live in the most view-heavy neighborhood in Seattle. West Seattle has more singularly spectacular views than anywhere else in the city.

    Maybe folks are just not accustomed to getting out of their cars and walking or biking around their own nearby neighborhoods to know and enjoy “our” Olympics and Sound vista views from a Different Point of View.

    Perhaps they don’t have the experience to realize that views of abundant nature are NOT BEING TORN DOWN — only a cumbersome State road way is being removed. Myself? I had come to assume that road and views was mine to keep. It wasn’t. Any sadness or grief or sense of entitlement I had was relieved by the recognition that stellar views remain and I don’t even have to leave the neighborhood, like most of the city of Seattle does.

    I can walk through more greenbelt paths than anywhere else in the city. Most of us can be at the beach or viewpoints to see the Olympics within a five minute drive. We have one of the best views of a metropolitan city in the country.

    Change can be uncomfortable. A fresh perspective will be a good thing, I believe, for every one.

  • B-Squared January 19, 2009 (11:31 am)

    Thanks Carol – that pretty much sums it up.

    welcome to a “world class city” (whatever the hell that means) where public amenities are taken away to be enjoyed by only the privileged and the tourists. yay for us.

  • Cami January 19, 2009 (12:09 pm)

    Can’t they make it 3 lanes?????

  • d January 19, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Cami –

    I think I heard someone credible write or say somewhere (maybe Vlad right here on WSB?) that the traffic engineers advise that in this scenario two lanes keep traffic moving better than three would. These aspects of high-volume traffic engineering are beyond me, but I will put my faith in their learned judgment.

    I suspect these and all the engineers will continue to turn over every rock to make sure others’ mistakes are not repeated and that this will be carried out to impeccable standards of efficiency.

    And, if they’re wrong? Well, maybe we’ll just have to run them out of town. I doubt we’ll have to do that though.

  • firwave January 19, 2009 (2:17 pm)

    Again, the viaduct will fall down in an earthquake before Seattle and WA state every make a decision. Let’s form another committee, let’s have another meeting…it’s laughable. The only way to go is the tunnel.

  • Meghan January 19, 2009 (2:20 pm)

    Perhaps B-squared and others so adamently against a tunnel and in favor of an elevated structure (with VIEWS from our speeding cars and buses!) are right. Instead of using the technology and building a hidden tunnel under our city, let’s instead tear down the Viaduct, cut off West Seattle from downtown for 8 years or so (goodbye, property values!), drive hundreds out of jobs and businesses along the construction zone, and build another big, elevated highway along our waterfront. Of course, it’ll have to be much wider and bigger than our current Viaduct, but hey, it’s already huge, deafening and pollution spewing — what’s another 50 feet of shadows cast over downtown all day? And let’s be sure to always drag class warfare into it (like all development projects in Seattle). After all, it’s ONLY the rich people and tourists who will enjoy all the new open space, right?? Regular people don’t use parks, do they? And yes, let’s go out of our way to NOT be a “world class city” (whatever that means). Let’s let a fondness for a concrete highway built back when the auto reigned supreme inspire us to build an even bigger one – and yes, make us the laughing stock of the developed world! It could be fun! So “small town” and independent of us! Oh, wait… I just applied common sense to the situation — and no, they’re NOT right.

  • Megan January 19, 2009 (4:35 pm)

    But won’t we have our skyline back
    without car of whir and street of black?
    Moved underground, the view doesn’t die –
    it just won’t distract us while we drive!

    Tunneling will change the scene
    from concrete structures to hills of green –
    and it will be for all to share,
    not just those living in the air,

    for the man-made transportation device
    will be out of the way for longing eyes.
    We will no longer have to see
    the two-teared obstruction of natural beauty…

  • Carol January 19, 2009 (7:57 pm)

    A View Last Thoughts

    Ms Meghan I commend your rhyme
    And can’t help notice that the time
    You’ve spent in deep and honest thought
    Requires I now, ignore you not

    I’ve so enjoyed the robust way
    You all have written this last day
    About your views against or for
    This thing I call the “Great Big Bore”

    But I, unlike a lot of you
    Have never found it to be true
    That there was so much to malign
    About the viaduct’s design

    And none that I know shed a tear
    Or sadly cried into their beer
    Because the waterfront from town
    Was kept by viaduct too far down

    For me, these reasons we’ve been told
    Sufficient water do not hold
    To justify we now should hand
    Out most on what we can’t expand

    And yes I could go to that part
    Where big erasers stump for art
    But none’s the same as when the view
    Is every day a part of you

    I really do know after all
    There is no doubt that she will fall
    But when she’s gone I’d rather be
    Above, where life look’s good to me

  • B-squared January 19, 2009 (8:08 pm)

    Bravo again, Carol:)

  • litlnemo January 19, 2009 (8:12 pm)

    Exactly how is the waterfront “cut off” from the city by the Viaduct? People keep saying that. I wonder if those people have ever been to the waterfront. Having worked in the area, I do not have any difficulty accessing the waterfront at all. You can walk there or drive there, no problem.

    And, of course, historically the waterfront wasn’t some pretty park-laden promenade; it was Railroad Avenue, a busy strict full of shipping and industry. It’s still busy, active, and pretty damned healthy.

  • litlnemo January 19, 2009 (8:16 pm)

    err, a busy street, that is. Darn fingers.

  • d January 19, 2009 (8:23 pm)

    A poetry throw-down about the viaduct!

    Most excellent!

  • Ken January 20, 2009 (12:06 am)

    I’ve driven the Viaduct many times and never noticed the view. Because I was driving!

    The tunnel will give us the opportunity to create a long waterfront park, the sort of park the Commons should have given us.

  • Megan January 20, 2009 (9:45 am)

    Again comes at me competing rhyme,
    what can I say that’s different this time?
    I appreciate the challenge to my view,
    but the point here is Seattle’s blue
    and green and beach and wind and wave,
    and oh what trouble we would save
    if we knew the big picture, wide and tall,
    then maybe we wouldn’t have cars at all!
    But since we do and they’re here for good,
    I’d rather look at strengths of wood
    than what, to me, seems a disfigurement
    on the panoramic face of natural elements.
    I’d rather have sea’s sighs to breathe,
    the car fumes lace that salty breeze.
    I’d rather watch sun tickle sea,
    the be trapped behind bars of thick concrete.
    Us city dwellers, stuck in the dark,
    will now be able – from our parks! –
    to see what beauty sweet abounds
    and the song the city loud surrounds;
    undergrounding will finally be when
    we can see the beauty’s that has always been!

  • Megan January 20, 2009 (10:48 am)

    Right….”beauty’s” should (obviously) just be “beauty” – not attempting anything fancy there…:-P

  • hellno January 20, 2009 (11:01 am)

    This new waterfront park will have no beach or view. It will be just like it is now, walk up to the railing look at the seaweed and trash floating in the murky abyss, and move on. Do you think the piers and shops will make way for access? The mixed use viaduct will provide the much needed traffic flow and will have an elevated park to look beyond the waterfront businesses.

  • Megan January 20, 2009 (12:17 pm)

    If it’s really just the same,
    the either way, debate is lame:
    tunnel under or streets up high,
    they’ve already said good-bye
    to The View we’re all to miss:
    history laid railways and blew a kiss.
    Why be stuck in such lament?
    We’ve only replaced rails with cement –
    there was no view to obstruct
    so why does it matter what we construct
    in place of the rickety, condemned road
    above our heads? We’ll never know
    since we’ve been slaying for so long
    The View that has long been gone.

  • Carol January 20, 2009 (12:23 pm)

    Done Gone!

    These minds will never be as one
    And I must to my duties run
    Although it’s been a lot of fun
    Like Shakespeare, I’m done, done and done.

  • hellno January 20, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Please be aware of the devastation and corruption to follow the tunnel project. Boston, Charlotte, and L.A. have had similar problems.

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