Viarace! Constantine, McDermott, Rasmussen head downtown

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s shuttle to the West Seattle Water Taxi dock finally rolled up to its Junction stop around 7:57 am – and with that, he was the last to head out on what at least one Twitter account dubbed Viarace … his friendly competition with fellow WS-residing politicians County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, to see who would get downtown first. Rasmussen left first, on his bike; Constantine caught a bus – earlier one than he was supposed to, apparently – and that left McDermott to await the shuttle. You may already have seen some of this on TV, as it was a major media event, with the three mobbed by cameras as they alternately joked around and offered serious reminders of your commute options.

All part of the runup to the nine-day, ten-night Alaskan Way Viaduct closure that starts at 7:30 pm tonight – with demolition work beginning on the Viaduct’s south end shortly thereafter – more to come (including video of the 3 “viaracers”)!

8:39 AM UPDATE: The arrivals are in order of departure. Per @newsguysully on Twitter, bicyclist Rasmussen first – in just about half an hour – and bus rider Constantine second. McDermott tracked his commute by Facebook – last update from the Water Taxi: “Beautiful cruise across Elliott Bay! This is a commute!”

8:48 AM UPDATE: And McDermott’s latest status, about a minute ago: “Now arriving City Hall” (an uphill walk a few blocks from Pier 50). He said pre-trip that he’ll be on the Water Taxi Monday too.

ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: King County put together this video recap:

30 Replies to "Viarace! Constantine, McDermott, Rasmussen head downtown"

  • Anne October 21, 2011 (8:37 am)

    Just heard on the radio that Tom Rasmussen got there fist-Dow Constantine second-Joe McDermott still on his way. Would be more interesting for them to do this on Monday morning-AFTER the closure.

    • WSB October 21, 2011 (8:56 am)

      Anne – We have added that info too. They did it today to remind everybody of commute options, though it would be fun if they tried it again. McDermott will be commuting via Water Taxi on Monday for sure again anyway, he said – TR

  • Bongo18 October 21, 2011 (8:46 am)

    AWESOME! How unique! Politicians soak up all available media space while chuckling about the commoners three hour commutes!

  • Maia October 21, 2011 (8:56 am)

    Way to go, Tom! I might try the Water Taxi to get into town this weekend.

  • OP October 21, 2011 (9:16 am)

    What is the point of doing this on a Friday, the least busiest traffic day of the week? Do it on Monday, then we’ll see how things go. It’s not unique; it’s trite and falling well short in the realism department.

  • Ben October 21, 2011 (9:17 am)

    dow constantine was on my 54 this morning into downtown. traffic was unusually light – very few cars on avalon (making the new bus-only lane seem unnecessary), and none of the crazy bridge bus lane crossings and slowdown where the delridge onramp joins the bridge. i’m grateful for today’s speedy commute but part of me wishes dow had witnessed the more typical nightmare traffic scenario.

  • Aaron October 21, 2011 (9:22 am)

    I’m normally on the 7:00ish busses leaving the Morgan Junction & they are usually full.
    I was on the 8:00 54 leaving the Morgan Junction this morning. It was COMPLETELY packed, standing room, elbow to elbow.
    If all those people are going to start catching the 7:00 busses to beat the commute, we are going to be in a world of hurt.

  • HackedOff October 21, 2011 (9:32 am)

    Would have made a lot more sense for them to do this on Monday with the rest of us mortals. People have no idea what is coming down the line with this Viaduct-gedden. I predict job loss, road-rage and home values plummeting in West Seattle. Way to go City Council! Thanks for NOT representing 100,000 people. We’re just a bunch of nobody’s over here … like the former Mayor, Deputy Mayor, numerous famous broadcasters, successful business people.

    And I love SDOT’s “just leave earlier or telework” messages. That’s rich. How about Occupy West Seattle where all 80,000 of us commuters just OCCUPY THE VIADUCT before they take a wrecking ball to it?

    I resent that I have to completely rearrange MY life in order to support the little plans and designs of capitalist pigs! Taking down the Viaduct and not rebuilding it is single-handedly the worst decision Seattle has ever made. Do you hear that TOM, Dow and Joe?

  • PsycleMD October 21, 2011 (9:40 am)

    I think HackedOff is channeling road rage right now.

  • Tom October 21, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Awesome! How unique! A cranky cynical commenter on the West Seattle Blog! Never ceases to amaze me what a crotchety bunch the WSB commenters can be sometimes.

    Still, I’m happy to see this high-profile promotion of non-car options for commuting. Bike, bus, water taxi – all good options. I am expecting to barely notice the Viaduct is gone even though I have to get from Gatewood to First Hill every day.

  • Tony October 21, 2011 (10:01 am)

    good luck Tom…. you will need it..

  • Stephanie October 21, 2011 (10:03 am)

    The bike took about half an hour. How long did it take via the other routes? It would be interesting to compare route times since they didn’t all start at the same time.

    • WSB October 21, 2011 (10:37 am)

      Re: The times – all close to half an hour, 35-40 minutes.

  • SuitsAreNotBoring October 21, 2011 (10:04 am)

    Fun thing to see on a Friday – and a good reminder of options.

    To those complaining about the day they chose – They all commute various ways downtown on a regular basis, so it not like they don’t know what non-Friday commutes are like for all of us. I have been in morning meetings waiting for one or two of them to show up – because they had a nasty commute. Personally, planning to water taxi most of next week.

  • Elizagrace October 21, 2011 (10:07 am)

    I felt this like challenge was two fold, to remind us of the variety of transportation options and to also be fun.
    FUN. You know, that thing that is supposed to make you smile? If you have forgotten how to have it then you have bigger issues than transportation.

    Everyone will be dealing with the “viadoom” including these three representatives, so don’t post about how they should do it on Monday… they did it today to show us options, and they will be doing it on Monday… it is called their commute.

  • MSW October 21, 2011 (10:12 am)

    I sat next to Joe McDermott this morning on the water taxi, couldn’t help but noticed with all the cameras following him everywhere. One thing I’ve noticed since trying out the water taxi. There seems to be only 1 bus, #16 that takes ferry commuters to downtown and it runs every 15 minutes. The other option is to walk 3 long blocks up to 3rd to catch either the surface buses or go down into the bus tunnel to catch either a bus or train to Westlake. It took me about an hour yesterday from 49th and Admiral to arrive at Westlake and Denny. So it’s bus #57, 775 Shuttle, Water taxi, bus tunnel via train, and finally the trolley. Not the most efficent way to commute. I’m going to miss the Viaduct.

  • KT October 21, 2011 (10:16 am)

    Think about what the bridge is like on weekends when they close the Viaduct for some special event or inspection. How can the upcoming nine days not be a disaster? What bothers me most is I continually see transportation projects or temproary events that create incredible travel difficulties for West Seattle (the largest neighborhood in Seattle the last I knew) and there does not appear to be an elected official looking out for our interests. Making light of it with this mornings competition does not serve us well. Neither do comments about people rearranging their lives as if it is always so simple. Just keep remembering, the Viaduct handles 110,000 cars a day and less than half will probably use the tunnel when built. I also saw a news report that said 12,000 to 15,000 cards a day travel from West Seattle to downtown daily. I can see the potential for long term economic damage to West Seattle by the time this is all done in 2016 or whenever.

  • Laurie October 21, 2011 (10:20 am)

    As one who has to commute by car (on days when kids must be dropped off) my choices are more limited. I think cycling is smart, healthy, environmentally ideal etc., etc., but I am totally feeling HackedOff’s hackedoffedness right now. Stupid tunnel is going to go over budget and stick drivers underground so the wealthy & powerful can control the waterfront view. If that’s not true, then why not leave the viaduct up and turn it into Seattle’s version of they NY High Line, for everyone to enjoy?

  • Karl October 21, 2011 (10:20 am)

    How long did it take each participant? Anyone walking their commute during the outage?

  • Larry October 21, 2011 (10:55 am)

    On Sunday mornings I drive my car (gasp) to St James Cathedral. Usually 30 minutes is ample time to park and usher my family to their varying destinations. I’m thinking an hour would be ample this Sunday…anybody think differently?

  • AlkiRes. October 21, 2011 (11:50 am)

    I agree with HackedOff & Laurie! Replace the viaduct!

  • two four six October 21, 2011 (12:32 pm)

    Laurie is recomending leaving the viaduct up and using it as a park (like the new NY High Line public space). Great idea, but, the viaduct is coming down for safety reasons; it can’t be left standing. I can’t wait for a more parklike waterfront without the looming overhead structure, or (as much) vehicular soot.
    What I will miss is that amazing view from the viaduct. Can’t have it all, right?

  • AJP October 21, 2011 (12:54 pm)

    I certainly found cycling to be the quickest way into downtown, when I worked downtown.

  • walker October 21, 2011 (1:01 pm)

    Bike won, cool! So it was all surface streets, no alleys or side walks and waited for all the light? Great!
    What was the ” drive time” time for each?

  • Cowpie October 21, 2011 (2:43 pm)

    Of course the biker won, it really takes very little time to ride the 5.5 miles to City Hall. No matter what the car traffic is like, the bike lane is always open. The only thing that stops me is when the lower bridge is opened for a boat.

  • rosenlaw October 21, 2011 (7:25 pm)

    I guess it never occurred to all the naysayers in la-la land that make fun of us “cynical” and “cranky” posters that not everyone can ‘explore’ these allegedly wonderful commute alternatives.

    For instance, in my case I’m a network and telecom consultant that does a LOT of in-person, spur of the moment on-site work. So tell me, oh positive green people- when was the last time YOU lugged an 80lb laser printer on your bike? And if your whole office was at a standstill because your phone system or server died, how would you like it if you called me and I said “hey. I’ll be there when the bus can get there’??


  • Aaron October 21, 2011 (7:54 pm)

    Alright all you bicycle nay-sayers. BIKING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Portland OR is considered the most successful bike commuting city in America, with a 6% bicycle commuter rate. 6%! That means that the other 94% are not on bikes. IT IS OK FOR SOME PEOPLE TO NOT RIDE A BIKE.

    Thank you.

  • MSW October 21, 2011 (9:40 pm)

    Who came up with the closing time for the Viaduct at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday when people were trying to get home. Couldn’t they have closed it at midnight when there are fewer cars?

  • JN October 22, 2011 (12:16 am)

    No one is saying that everyone should hop on a bike, only that it is a quick, reliable way into downtown and to other reasonably close-in locations. Obviously there are some occupations that would require some sort of personal vehicle, but for the vast majority of people heading into downtown to work, and who don’t need to haul extremely heavy loads, those restrictions do not apply.
    And btw, I obey all lights and stop signs, signal whenever I turn, and I still get downtown in 30-35 minutes, every day (unless the swing bridge is open).

  • austin October 22, 2011 (7:20 am)

    It’s too bad for those of you who can’t (or won’t, which I’ll bet accounts for a majority of those single occupant vehicles that will cause the inevitable parking lot on the bridge next week) bike or bus to work for a few days. It seems like the best option for those people would be to simply leave earlier than usual.
    If you end up stuck in traffic next week, it’s because of decisions you made.

Sorry, comment time is over.