October 8th, 2008 by rbanks
Something appeals to me about Frank Chopp’s slightly insane idea to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct in Seattle. He’s proposing that the thing is basically just boxed in, and a park is built on top of it. Shops would be put beneath it (a possible issue with Homeland Security) and the strip of land along the waterfront would be pedestrianised.
It’s gutsy, obviously insane and expensive, and would take a city like Seattle, often grid-locked on any infrastructure issue, about 20 years to approve. And it runs a bit counter to my own ethical instincts that say that we should be removing highways, not replacing them. Still, strangely admirable.
“In effect, the Choppway moves downtown Seattle one block westward and gives the downtown a long front yard. Chopp loves the way it saves the view from the current Viaduct, giving it to all sorts of people who can savor it while strolling rather than shooting glances from a speeding car. Hearing him sermonize about it, one would think it’s going to be his legacy.
One big problem is that nearly every interest is lined up against it, including downtown Seattle interests, the design community, the anti-auto, anti-freeway crowd, and people who just want to get a solution, not another donnybrook. Naturally, these people have found it almost impossible to express their real views to Chopp, who just happens to be the most powerful politician in the state, with a personal machine in the House that will do his bidding.”