A viaduct you can dream upon
The Washington State Department of Transportation announced a contest to let 25 people have 30 minutes on the traffic-free Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Seattle Times staff columnist
What is it with you people and Rollerblades?
You want to race in them, twirl in them, dance in them and even grill meat in them.
If it isn't Rollerblades, it's wheelchairs. Motorcycles. Race cars and golf carts.
Offer the people of Seattle a half-hour on an empty, downtown stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and they head straight to Xanadu.
The madness started as soon as the Washington state Department of Transportation announced a contest: In 100 words or less explain what you — and 24 of your friends — would do with 30 minutes on the traffic-free viaduct. Entries (send them to email@example.com) close Sunday, and three judges will decide within days.
The winner will be escorted to a private section of the viaduct at a predetermined time and allowed to live his or her dream.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program has received 400 entries so far, said spokesman Matt Preedy.
"Photography, dance, sports like playing tennis or having a dodgeball match," he said. "Rolling down the viaduct in the P.I. globe ... "
It's about time we had some fun, that we stop worrying about the roadway crumbling beneath us, or being sandwiched in our Prius with the relatives from Omaha.
It's about time we stop all the hand-wringing and politics and suspend our fears about the billions the replacement deep-bore tunnel is going to cost us.
It's half an hour! Dream big!
"A half-hour? That's it?" asked Josh Santangelo, 32, a Seattle software developer I ran into at Zeitgeist Coffee near the viaduct in Pioneer Square the other morning. "So random."
His friend, Aron Schoppert, 37, might consider a career in party planning.
"A dance party," he began. "At sunset. And why only 25 people? At least get a few hundred."
I started taking furious notes.
"It would be a celebration," he continued. "A send-off. A wake."
He paused, glanced at my notes.
"It's all about the sunset, though," he said. "Driving the viaduct is one of my favorite memories of seeing the city."
Frances Pennell, the executive director of the Washington Access Fund, imagines people with disabilities racing around in their specialized wheelchairs and three-wheeled bikes. They could play rugby, maybe basketball. Let them go a little crazy on the prettiest stretch of road in the city.
"Then I'd give everyone a jackhammer and help them tear it down," she said, then paused.
"But I don't know how safe that would be."
Couldn't be any safer than the thing is now, said financial planner Kathryn Garrison.
"I would suggest getting the hell off," she said. "That's what I do when I'm on it."
Imagine working beside it every day for years, like Josh West, 35, and Ben Devoir, 29, technical provisioning specialists at Megapath, at Seneca Street and Alaskan Way.
"If you work on the fifth floor, the view sucks," said West, who lives in Bremerton. "But if you're on the sixth, it's great."
They're not going to miss the viaduct.
"It's nasty," West said. "It's been condemned. I used to park my vehicle below it, but I was afraid I'd come out and there'd be a chunk of concrete in it."
Meanwhile, Devoir was thinking. Too bad it's only a half an hour, he said. Couldn't even get coals ready for a barbecue.
"Golf carts!" he suggested. "They don't go very fast. But maybe races. Or polo."
"Naked, drunk relay races," West suggested.
"In golf carts?"
Because Preedy said so.
"At the end of the day, it's got to be all ages and family-friendly," he said. "And it's got to be safe."
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She'd have an open bar.
About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
email@example.com | 206-464-2334
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